Let's be honest: any movie about a plane disaster is sort of awkward to watch these days. Even old-school films like the original Airport films have an eerie twinge to them. Pretty much the only films that have escaped this are the Airplane films. You can't be disturbed by any film featuring Leslie Nielsen and Robert Stack. In today's movie, the producers actually went out of their way to make their film look awkward a year later (it was made in 2000) and for the rest of all time. It was like a dare gone wrong! This movie is the sequel to a surprise hit starring Lauren 'Dumb & Dumber' Holly and Ray 'Narc' Liotta. They decided to follow this up a couple of years later with the all-star duo of Jennifer Beals and Craig Scheffer! Wow, star power like that will be visible for thousands of years after it burns out! This is...
The film begins with a bunch of people confronting the movie's titular fear. They are on a plane that experiences turbulence. One of them gets pushed past his limit and walks off, revealing that it was a plane simulator. Damn you, M. Night! In actuality, they are in a support group for the fear that is actually run by the airline! Enjoy the new Fear of Terrorism class- brought to you by Al Queida! Our group is made up 90% comic-relief characters (nebbish guy, fat guy, etc), a British man, Mr. Scheffer and Ms. Beals. Do they contribute much to the story? Not really. As it turns out, the group's final test is an actual flight, which seems like a really bad idea. They meet up with a flight controller played by Tom Berenger, who did not really have anything better to do at this point. I should mention that he was the star of Sniper 1, 2 and 3. A bunch of extras and such get on the plane as it goes for its flight. As a bonus, they are joined by some foreign guys. Ruh roh!
*We get a bit of filler for a while as we establish everyone's quirks. The British guy is trying to get some nookie from Beals, who never really says 'no.' Scheffer is constantly butting in to everyone's business, while the Captain acts absurdly-generic. It's like he's trying to be every do-good pilot from the Airport films at one time! All of our comic relief characters freak out as the plane goes through a storm, but that is the least of their concerns. People start to get killed and nobody is quite sure why. The movie tries to cover who the culprit is before doing the reveal in a long and winding series of 'shock reveals.' All but one of the foreigners are killed after one of them holds the plane hostage with a bomb threat. One of the passengers reveals themselves to be Security Personnel for the airline, but fails to stop the terrorist. Scheffer and the British man take him down, but the former notices that the latter has actually pocketed the detonator. Reveal #2 comes as the man explains that he is a British agent sent to stop the men with the weapon. After some questions still remain, he just says 'screw it' and kills both the Security guy and the lone foreigner left. So, he is the terrorist?
The movie's not done yet, so try to keep up. In a silly plan involving putting one woman in an overhead compartment and a mass attack, our heroes take down the Brit. This is where we get one of the more awkward scenes involving the passengers discussing how they can take down the terrorist. Yeah, it's a bit too much like United 93! They succeed, but one of the passengers reveals himself to be in league with the Brit! Got any more plot twists to chuck at me in twenty minutes, movie?!? In spite of being attacked numerous times for interfering, Scheffer continues to stick his nose in this! As luck would have it, he designs planes after a crash killed his wife. He proves himself to be the pluckiest damn hostage in the history of mankind! Things get better when the co-conspirator is taken down by a batch of drugged water (don't ask), but worse when the Captain dies from tumbling backwards into a control box. Thank God your spine was made of Nerf! The movie really stretches out the ending bit, with the use of a plane to communicate with the control tower, a second radio to do so and, finally, a cellphone. The movie becomes more awkward when the pressure comes to shoot down the plane. Lay off United 93, guys! Finally, the day is saved and Scheffer gets to put his tongue down Jennifer Beals' throat. The End.
Honestly, the film is not that bad. The story is pretty simple- for the most part- and the acting gets the job done. That is in regards to the leads, mind you, as everyone else is just 'eh.' The villain pulls off the evil, yet realistic tone pretty well, although is character is very one-note. Beals does the woman-in-peril thing pretty well. Oddly, the day is saved by the man, as opposed to the feminist tone of the first film. The plot twists really hurt the movie as they are barely explained and just there to keep you off-guard. It is 'sequel-itis' at its best and very worst, guys. I get that you need to top the first movie, but try to stick to either terrorists, bio-weapons or a military threat- not all three! For a sequel to a barely-remembered '90s film, it is quite good. Just don't expect it to ignore all of the 'plane in peril' genre's cliches.
We get some buggy Blockbuster Trash in the form of a sequel to a Guillermo Del Toro film. Can this film mimic the others' notoriety and success? Stay tuned...