on January 10, 1997 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   With "Turbulence," fear will definitely be in the air--for theatre managers, that is, when audience requests for ticket reimbursements begin landing. The type of movie whose climax supplies the needed 90 seconds of exciting footage for a good trailer but that fails to adequately fill the preceding 90 minutes to make a good film, "Turbulence" suffers from a number of in-flight problems. (It even had a couple pre-flight problems, with its original fall 1996 release being postponed due to the real-life explosion of TWA Flight 800 and a 12/20 date being aborted due to release-slate overload.)
   The key fault light flashing is logistical: Director Robert Butler and writer Jonathan Brett decide to eject plausibility in their attempt to fashion a mano-a-womano fracas 40,000 feet up in a 747. Although the jet takes off from New York, heading to Los Angeles on travel-heavy Christmas Eve, only a handful of passengers and crew are aboard. As soon as the plane ascends, half of the people are killed, and all but two of the rest become locked in a room. The two are a serial killer, Ryan (Ray Liotta), and a flight attendant, Teri (Lauren Holly). The rest of the journey is a physical and psychological battle of wits--uninteresting because it's so one-sided--between Ryan and Teri; a secondary plot pits woman against nature as Teri must pilot the craft through a mammoth storm that causes major turbulences.
   Various landing conflagrations, with a building being smashed and a parking tower destroyed, are but a mere piece of the film, and they're not persuasive; a 747 coming down would have caused even more carnage. The filmmakers do create some intensity, but their vision and the direction of the movie seem to have been booked on separate flights. Although Ryan has some intriguing characteristics, in the end Liotta is again wasted in a role. January can be the cruelest month for moviegoers, as studios sometimes make it the dumping ground for horror or garbage films. Horrifyingly, "Turbulence" is kind of both. Starring Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly. Directed by Robert Butler. Written by Jonathan Brett. Produced by Martin Ransohoff and David Valdes. An MGM release. Thriller. Rated R for terror, strong violence and language. Running time: 103 min
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