sat 20/04/2024

Hijack, Apple TV+ review - trapped at 40,000 feet with a bunch of armed thugs | reviews, news & interviews

Hijack, Apple TV+ review - trapped at 40,000 feet with a bunch of armed thugs

Hijack, Apple TV+ review - trapped at 40,000 feet with a bunch of armed thugs

How is Idris Elba going to rescue his fellow-passengers from this?

Special skills: Idris Elba as Sam Nelson

Probably because it’s a secret fear shared by many a flyer, aircraft hijacking has become its own screen mini-genre. We’ve already had not only Hijack but also Hijacked, not to mention the Wesley Snipes vehicle Passenger 57, Jodie Foster in Flightplan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 7500.

In Air Force One, the President himself (played by Harrison Ford) was hijacked. And then there’s Liam Neeson in Non-Stop.

In Apple TV’s new seven-parter Hijack, it’s Idris Elba’s turn to be the cool, unflusterable one who finds himself the eye of the in-flight storm, as a gang of oafish thugs take over the plane on which he’s flying from Dubai to London. Each episode supposedly covers one-seventh of the seven-hour flight. The flight is Kingdom 29, and Ben Miles plays the smooth but rather shifty pilot Robin Allen (pictured below, Kaisa Hammarlund as First Officer Anna Kovacs).

We learn that Elba’s character is Nelson. Sam Nelson. He has his own very particular set of skills, which he has apparently honed in his day job as some kind of top-level business negotiator. According to his wife, mergers and takeovers are his speciality. He comes in at the end “when it all kicks off.” Perhaps he has to persuade people to sign documents that aren’t necessarily in their best interests.

He’s certainly hyper-observant, and seemingly equipped with ultra-sharp zoom eyesight and the hearing of a Golden Retriever. The aircraft has barely taken off when Sam has formed an approximate picture of who the hijackers are and what they’re about to do. For instance, why have they all got in-flight wash bags when said wash bags aren’t given to passengers on daytime flights? And when the hijackers inform the passengers that the onboard wifi has been turned off, Sam instinctively knows they’re bluffing.

We soon get to see that his mind works in a mysterious way. Although he isn’t successful in dissuading a couple of gung-ho fellow travellers from having a go at overpowering the hijackers, he is certainly correct that their efforts will get them nowhere (they end up bloodied, bound and gagged, though surprisingly not dead). Also he is playing the long game, like a bout of three-dimensional chess. The hijackers, notably an especially sneery and yobbish Neil Maskell, take a dislike to Nelson because they think he’s a smart alec who’s going to try his luck, but he metaphorically disarms them by volunteering to assist them, from the purely selfish motive of wanting to get home to his own family.

Despite its terrible triphop theme tune, Hijack is slickly shot and plausibly evokes the terror of being trapped at 40,000 feet with a bunch of armed fanatics (though whether they'd be daft enough to fire their pistols inside a pressurised airliner remains to be seen). Sitting through seven hours of it might be way beyond the call of duty, though.

Defying the binge-and-purge trend of other online streamers, Apple are releasing an episode every Wednesday, but from the first two we know a variety of stars are jostling for the limelight. Max Beesley plays the police officer who’s the new love in the life of Sam’s estranged wife, and he’s good buddies with counter-terrorist officer Zahra Gahfoor, played by Archie Panjabi (pictured above). Eve Myles (from Keeping Faith) is the harassed working mother who’s always late for her job at London’s air traffic control, but she has already made some perceptive deductions about the gathering crisis aboard Kingdom 29. Happy landings!

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