CONTAINS SPOILERS; DOES NOT CONTAIN GEORGE KENNEDY
He really should be in it by rights: he's the face of cinematic air disaster. He's the sole link between the four Airport movies (okay, he's only actually on board the stricken jet in the last one, the damp squib of Airport 80: The Concorde) as engineer/mechanic/Sky God Joe Patroni, and then years later he turned up as a priest on the hijacked plane in The Delta Force - and his IMDb listing also includes a TV movie called International Airport! If only he'd turned up in Flightplan, Turbulence, Con Air, Passenger 57, Red Eye, Die Hard 2, Panic Button, Snakes On A Plane....
Sadly, no-one gets to say "I have had it with these m*********ing ancient Chinese warrior demons on this m*********ing plane!" in Airborne, a pleasingly old-fashioned load of high altitude twaddle that's basically one third Airport 77, one third Horror At 37,000 Feet, and one third a bunch of people bellowing profanities at each other. The last flight out of the storm-lashed UK doesn't just contain the usual assortment of allegedly interesting characters - a foul-mouthed London gangster (Alan Ford) and his obnoxious minders, a couple of British squaddies who've served in Afghanistan, a pair of lovebirds with an eye on joining the Mile High Club, a suspicious last minute replacement cabin steward - but in the cargo hold there's Professor Julian Glover's absurdly valuable Shang Dynasty vase that supposedly holds the spirit of an ancient Chinese war god which will slaughter everyone if it gets loose. Or has it escaped already?
Meanwhile, Air Traffic Control (led by Mark Hamill, and boy, was Tatooine a long time ago) are tracking the jet's course deviations and the secret services are intent on shooting down the plane on the grounds of National Security, and blaming the crash on adverse weather conditions. ("You've no idea how often that works", declares Special Agent Billy Murray in the film's most chilling moment.) Whilst Airborne really isn't very good - it's poorly written tosh with too much swearing, and none of the characters are worthy of a whit of audience concern - it's not terrible either and ends up as perfectly decent if unremarkable, and despite everything that's wrong with it, I kind of enjoyed it and it's far more fun than I'd expected. Certainly I'll take this over a lot of the half-assed sludge I've waded through recently.
Don't call me Shirley: