The 1970s were a great time for the airplane thriller genre. Kick started by the multi-Oscar nominated Airport
, flights ruled the air and the silver screen. However, by the time The Concorde... Airport '79
rolled around, the series was verging on self parody, leading to the seeming conclusion of the genre, Airplane!
Surprisingly, the success of Turbulence
in the home video market brought engines roaring back to rental stores across the country, spawning the release of dozens of nearly identical new entries into the Airplane Terror field.
Rough Air follows the genre conventions closely. Eric Roberts
is a disgraced pilot called in for one last flight. Alexandra Paul
is his former lover / head flight attendant. The routine international flight hits a patch of ROUGH AIR when (first) the plane is depressurized after the cargo hatch is torn from the plane, (second) hits a brutal oceanic storm, (third) is hit by lightning causing massive computer malfunction, (fourth) the prisoner being transported back to the states to stand trial as the Internet Murderer (!!) gets loose planning to hijack the plane, and (fifth) the plane passes the half way point of the flight signalling there is NO TURNING BACK ! Thankfully, the passengers include an airplane repairman on his honeymoon, a European soccer star (hellbent on making the sport bigger than baseball - take that Beckham!), and the aforementioned Internet Murderer (who happens to not only have a pilot's license but also a heart of gold!). Director Jon Cassar
brings an air of respectability (almost) and excitement to this cliched affair, just as he would do several years later as the coproducer / director of the hit show 24.