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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 23, 2023



THERE ARE lots of films about a hijacked airplane, from the “Airport” franchise, to “Air Force One” with Harrison Ford, “Non-Stop” with Liam Neeson, “7500” with Joseph Gordon Levitt, 

“Con Air” with Nicolas Cage, “Plane” with Gerard Butler, “Turbulence” with Ray Liotta, and one of the best for us is “Blood Red Sky”, a German film where the terrorists are killed by a woman passenger who happens to be a vampire.

Now comes “97 Minutes” on Hulu, whose running time is actually just 93 minutes. The movie offers the usual suspenseful ticking-clock scenario aboard a hijacked 767 airplane that might crash as it’s damaged and is about to run out of fuel.

The movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel but this familiar plot can still be the source of gripping, adrenalin-pumping excitement for the viewers. 

The plane here, Flight 420, is flying to New York, but Russian terrorists led by Anan (Pavan Grover, who also wrote the script) hijacked it. 

National Security Agency directors Toyin (Jo Martin) and Hawkins (Alec Baldwin) are in conflict as to what to do with the runaway aircraft. 

Toyin wants to rescue the beleaguered plane at all costs, with the help of an undercover agent inside the plane, Alex (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). 

But Hawkins prefers not to wait for Alex to get to retake the plane from the terrorists and just shoot it down before it reaches American soil as the plane carries a nuclear warhead that will no doubt bring disaster to the U.S. 

Inside the plane, Alex pretends he’s one of the terrorists then collaborates with a courageous nurse, Kim (Myanna Buring), to thwart the evil schemes of the the bad guys. 

Adding urgency to the alarming situation is the fact that the plane’s pilots have both died and no one seems to know how to land the plane to safety.  

At the height of all the tension, a surprising twist, which of course, we cannot reveal here, is suddenly revealed, making the situation even more complicated. 

It turns out one of the characters have a score to settle with Director Hawkins, who turns out to be the personal target of one of the terrorists. 

Other complications occur, like some of the passengers try to stage an uprising against the terrorists, but it was quickly thwarted. 

And there’s the plane being depressurized, with the passengers inside flying around. These sequences manage to make the movie quite engaging.

Director Timo Vourensola (“Iron Sky”, about Nazis based on the moon who want to invade the earth) succeeds in making the plane set persuasively quite detailed to appear like the interior of a real 767. 

The claustrophobic atmosphere makes the on-screen proceedings more nerve-wracking. Just don’t ask too many questions about the storytelling as it will surely spoil your viewing.  

We best remember the Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII in the series “The Tudors” and as Elvis Presley in the “Elvis” mini series. But now, he appears in B action flicks like this one and he tries his best to be convincing in his role here that is quite complex. 

The same cannot be said of Alec Baldwin, who did some memorable films in his younger days, like “Working Girl”, “Hunt for Red October”, two “Mission Impossible” movies and on TV, “30 Rock”, for which he won several Emmys. 

Now at 65, he is relegated to doing forgettable films like “Motherless Brooklyn”, “Arctic Dogs”, “Pixie” and “Before You Know It”. Here, he plays a thankless role and obviously did it for the paycheck. 

As a race against time thriller, some scenes manage to grip us but there’s never any doubt that the good guys would win and the safety of those on board is quite ensured.