‘Turbulence’ Review: Make It Stop

Posted in The Screening Room by - March 27, 2015

Ugh, I cannot wait to be done with Disaster Movie Month. The sheer amount of bad movies that we’ve watched this month is astounding compared to previous months. I was hoping that Turbulence would be an undiscovered gem in the genre, and boy, was I mistaken. It isn’t the worst movie that I watched this month, mostly because nothing can be as bad as Left Behind, but it is really bad. It wastes the talents of Ray Liotta and Brendan Gleeson, along with having a totally nonsensical plot that feels like a cheap knock-off of Con Air and a thoroughly annoying leading lady.

The plot of Turbulence is simple enough. Ray Liotta plays Ryan Weaver, a serial killer who is caught in New York, that must be transported to the west coast on a commercial airliner. Once he is on the plane, along with Brendan Gleeson as another inmate named Stubbs, he meets Teri, played by Lauren Holly, who is a flight attendant. Obviously, all hell breaks loose soon into the flight, with Stubbs killing the air marshals and then getting killed himself by Weaver. The film falls apart from there, following typical tropes that seem to continue to rear their ugly heads in the disaster movie genre. The plot really is a cheap version of Con Air with less-interesting characters and less-skilled direction. I never thought I’d wish I was watching a Jerry Bruckheimer film, but this movie pushed me to the limit.

The performances in the film are all over the place. Ray Liotta is the main star in one of my favorite movies, Goodfellas, and he is utterly wasted in this film. His character is meant to be somewhat ambiguous in regards to his guilt, but it never really works. There is no believability to his ambiguous nature and he is more creepy than sympathetic in the early scenes. Even when he comes completely unhinged later in the film, his character is more lunatic than menacing. He sits and smokes cigarettes, drinks champagne, and sings “Buffalo Gals”; it’s bad. Pairing Liotta with Holly was an even worse choice since her character is so run-of-the-mill and generic. She plays the naive flight attendant who is somewhat seduced by Liotta’s charm early on, then turns on him later in the film. Most of her performance consists of screaming at the top of her lungs and running from Liotta. It’s as interesting as it sounds. Brendan Gleeson rounds out the familiar faces in the film, taking on a laughably stereotypical southern accent. Gleeson has become one of Ireland’s best actors in recent years, and his presence in this movie is perplexing, especially when his Irish accent comes through the fake southern one. 

There is little in the film to note other than the performances. The CGI is 90s quality, which is to say it is closer to Volcano than Jurassic Park in terms of look. The plane looks hokey and fake, especially when it is flying over L.A. towards the end of the film. Along with the CGI plane, there is little action in the film aside from the initial scuffle with Stubbs and the air marshals. It is a boring movie. Liotta skulks around for an hour and Holly sits in the cockpit, looking confused about how to fly a jetliner. For a film that, from the poster, bills itself as an action/disaster film, there is little in the way of actually entertaining content. With the opportunity to craft an interesting take on the airplane disaster flick, they instead took a different path and made a film where half of it takes place in a cockpit. If there was some action, it might have saved the movie. 

Turbulence is a real stinker of a movie that had potential. It’s too bad that it wasted that potential making a boring, generic, made-for-TV quality film as opposed to challenging the preconceived notion of what disaster movies can be. It’s a thoroughly disappointing feature.

Final Say: Skip It 

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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