This movie is a sequel to the first “Airport” movie from 1970 and to be fair I found a lot of similarities to the movie “Airplane!” which inadvertently is a parody of this movie and other disaster movies that were popular in the 1970’s. I grew up watching “Airplane!” a lot with my parents.
The beginning of the film is slow and boring. It follows Columbia Airlines Flight 409 as it travels to Los Angeles International Airport. You don’t really know what is going on except they are getting on a plane and the First Stewardess is having some relationship trouble with her boyfriend. I wasn’t even sure if this was supposed to be a futuristic airport or they looked like that but since they didn’t have CGI, I figured it was all on location or a set.
The acting in the beginning seems terribly forced and throughout the movie the scenes that should be suspenseful don’t really deliver. Buildup is terrible and even when the two planes collide in midair it happens so suddenly that is left me confused at first. I also thought the pilot of the small plane was the man she was talking to in the beginning. Due in part to me not paying attention or getting the characters confused.
The only real action occurs during the midair crash, the pilot is blinded, and the co-pilot is sucked out into the air while the Flight Engineer dies instantly. Leaving just our First Stewardess to fly the plane with a crew of women who again seem to be branded as incompetent simply based on their gender.
Once Columbia Airlines gets wind of the situation, they spring into action by calling their flight instructor Murdock (the boyfriend from the beginning) and they try to devise an away to safely land a pilotless plane as it approaches the Rocky Mountains.
The rescue plan involves them doing a midair transfer to try and get a pilot on the plane. An idea that seems a bit absurd. The plan gets one person killed and then they must lower Murdock onto the plane. A couple reunited. Murdock reaches the plane safely and beings to land the plane. Even these supposedly tense moments don’t deliver and fall flat. The plane lands with no real issues and in total only four people die. Even the girl who is going for the kidney transplant is okay.
Overall the movie itself is flat. There is little to no real buildup and when disaster strikes it just happens. I found myself waiting to see what it going to happen and the only time your ears may perk up is the few times they mention some sort of vibration throughout the plane. Which could have been used as a diversion tactic to get you thinking something else will go wrong. The movie gets three stars out of five. It’s good but not great but not horrible either. The story is easy to follow but the characters seem a bit single sided. For the 1970’s I can’t say much about film making, but the cinematography isn’t bad and I found only some minor flaws in the acting and dialog.
The movie really does sexualize women to some degree and probably wouldn’t fly in today’s social climate, but it did back then. Not saying it is right or wrong but even the main character seems to be patronized a lot along with the younger stewardess by the Flight Engineer. The men seem to think she sleeps around when apparently, she’s in a relationship. I am sure it was intended to be harmless banter but today you never know.
What is nice is they used a real Boeing 747-123 in the movie! I don’t know if the interior of planes looked like that back in the 70’s but it was much more casual and honestly probably not as safe as it is today. The list of characters is relatively short, but the movie however is long, so it did seem a bit drawn out, coming in roughly (no pun intended) at one hour and forty-seven minutes. A cool little trivia piece, the in-flight movie is a scene from “American Graffiti (1973).
If you don’t like planes, then you can skip this movie and any other disaster movie about planes. If you don’t really care and like some classic-yet-silly bad old movies, then give this one a watch. Just remember that back in the mid seventies this was some dramatic stuff and people acted differently so you can’t apply your expectations on a movie produced some time ago.