Turbulence (1997)

R  |   |  Action, Thriller  |  10 January 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.7/10 from 8,763 users  
Reviews: 81 user | 44 critic

After a shootout on a flight transporting prisoners, a stewardess must outwit a smooth-talking serial killer and land the plane herself.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
FBI Agent Frank Sinclair
Captain Samuel Bowen
Gordy Owens ...
Captain Matt Powell
1st Officer Ted Kary
Marshal Al Arquette


Ryan Weaver romances beautiful women before he kills them. Ryan is arrested, convicted, and is part of a Christmas Eve transfer of prisoners on a transcontinental 747 commercial flight. Other airlines at JFK may have holiday passengers waiting on stand-by, but this jumbo jet takes off with a lot of empty seats. Ryan and another prisoner overpower and kill their guards. The few civilian passengers are herded into a "pantry" on the plane and are not seen again until the end of the movie. Ryan eliminates the other prisoners and all the crew members except Teri Halloran. The remainder of the movie follows a "cat-and-mouse" game between Ryan and Teri on the 747. Written by Dennis Lewis <dsl@sprynet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Prepare For Impact See more »


Action | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for terror, strong violence and language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

10 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Turbulencia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,464,008 (USA) (10 January 1997)


$11,466,088 (USA) (14 March 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The toy store in the movie in reality is a bookstore on the Main Street in Clinton, New Jersey, USA. There is a toy store on Main Street but it is in an alley and director Robert Butler didn't like the exterior of the building. The bookstore's front window was decorated with toys for the week of filming. See more »


This aircraft cannot fly inverted without the engines flaming out from fuel starvation. See more »


Ryan Weaver: Alright, I need a volunteer for a dangerous mission.
[pulls out three circuit boards]
Ryan Weaver: You, You, You,OK,You
[pulls the main circuit board and gets electrocuted]
Ryan Weaver: OW! WHOA, WHOA, Ok, you can stay.
See more »


References The Deliberate Stranger (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

It's Airport 1975 meets Friday the 13th in this thriller at 35,000 feet.
24 October 2002 | by (Denver, Colorado) – See all my reviews

  • 3/5 STARS -

It's Airport 1975 meets Friday the 13th in this thriller at 35,000 feet. Set aboard the ultra-sophisticated Boeing 747-200, a serial killer and flight attendant battle for control of the airplane as both his mental condition and the plane's altitude deteriorate.

A group of U.S. marshals is escorting two convicts aboard a nearly empty 747 on Christmas Eve. One convict escapes and kills all of the guards, along with the pilot. (The copilot is taken out just as efficiently by failing to observe the fasten seat belt sign!) After sitting back and letting them kill each other, serial killer Ryan Weaver (Liotta) fills the power vacuum and systematically secures control of the airplane. He has no intention of mounting an escape, however. Because he was already en route to death row, he plans to slowly torture his group of holiday captives while the plane flies itself into the ground.

Flight Attendant Teri Halloran (Holly) will have none of that, and we find ourselves with a far more capable flight attendant than Karen Black (from Airport 1975) at the helm of this 747. A lot can change in 22 years, and this time our flight attendant is strong-willed, empowered, and ready to brandish a gun, if necessary, to defend her safe passage to the ground. But just as significantly, it's the technology that has changed in two decades.

The airplane, the set design, and the special effects steal the show. Airplane buffs will be wowed at the display of real-world commercial jet technology, including the autoland system, which effectively replaces Charlton Heston (from Airport 1975) as the emergency pilot-in-command. Most of these whiz-bang gizmos are already present and functioning aboard commercial jets worldwide. By choosing such a high-tech plane, the producers were able to simplify the plot and omit the flight engineer altogether. He's been replaced by a bank of computers, as is becoming standard practice among domestic carriers.

The reality factor does have to be put on hold rather often, such as when the 747 flips over and our stars are forced to struggle on the ceiling of the cabin. Or when the plane's landing gear becomes entangled in a rooftop restaurant and subsequently scoops up a parked car. The 747-200's autopilot isn't nearly smart enough to recover from either crisis, but it's easy to let the disbelief slide because the visuals are so startlingly fresh.

External shots of the plane are well lit and light-years beyond what we have seen in any other aviation disaster film. Inside the plane, the sets are vibrant and alive with color. Brilliantly lit instrument panels, along with a talkative computer warning system, keep the audience involved. Even the avionics bay is bright and downright inviting!

It's a good thing the director let the art designers run amuck, because the psychosis of our serial killer would've sunk the picture otherwise. This character should have been penned as a standard mental case, but instead he's a serial killer and a sex fiend, which makes for a variety of uncomfortable confrontations between himself and the flight attendants. Women generally do NOT like this movie, primarily because the sexually-charged power struggles are repulsive to a modern temperament. The audience is officially fed up when Teri strips to seduce Ryan, just so that she can hit him in the head. Of course, he regains the upper hand moments later.

If just five minutes of this rubbish had been cut out the film, the result would have been much more satisfying. Liotta demonstrates his rendition of the crazed lunatic very well, and is highly entertaining until the script leads him to overly indulgent pastures. But ultimately, Turbulence is reluctant to decide whether it wants to be an action thriller or a teenage slasher movie. Although it eventually makes the right decision, half the movie has already passed by that point and those who would have abandoned ship, have already hit rewind.

Compared to Airport 1975, Turbulence is at once both a much bigger and a much smaller film. Turbulence has an abundance of top-notch special effects and is a colorful visual assault. Yet, the simple story of a frightened stewardess, struggling to fly a jumbo jet, is lost in this psychotic game of cat-and-mouse. In the world of the seven minute attention span, Turbulence plays by the new rules and thus belays its weakness: it is too youthful to know that by simply sitting back and letting the suspense build, the end result can be so much more satisfying.

14 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Guess I'm the only one that actually liked this movie cblountt
Terrible movie... DCskatr5
The 747 in the movie lewislang
training pilot - does anyone know? mizzzjulie
Just so I do not have to sit thru this all the way thru again... kindeyes
Why no score CD? tobias-borjesson
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