Turbulence is an action thriller that has a smooth takeoff, then stalls in midair. Lauren Holly stars as a flight attendant stuck working the NY to LA shift on Christmas Eve. The flight is lightly populated, but contains a few unusual passengers. Two criminals are being transferred in the company of federal marshalls. One is a violent armed robber (Brendan Gleeson), the other is a charming serial killer (Ray Liotta). A series of foolish mistakes by the marshalls lead to the criminals escape, and the film leads to a cat and mouse game between Holly’s flight attendant and Liotta’s serial killer in a pilotless plane. The film starts out well, with Liotta playing his killer with suave charm, and planting the seeds of doubt that he might truly be innocent. He begins to play mental games both with the marshalls and his fellow prisoner. Unfortunately, the film lets his character soon devolve into the typical run-of-the-mill over-the-top crazy villain, abandoning his earlier character development, and consigning the fate of Turbulence to be a washed-over Airport ’75 retread. At this point as well, any sense of grounded technical reality the film may have had get sucked out the window. We are treated to self repairing computer systems, hurricanes over Denver, and other ludicrous anomalies. It’s as if halfway through the film, the writers simply gave up on what was a promising effort. Ray Liotta is appropriately menacing, but delivers nothing we haven’t seen before. Lauren Holly spends most of the film looking vulnerable and confused, and never gets to stretch any acting muscles. Turbulence leaves you with the feeling that the film could have been something worthwhile, but instead it leaves you stuck in midair.
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