After Flight 42 travels through a storm they find themselves in France, 1940, during World war II.
That jacket cover makes a couple of bold assertions, and I fully expect it to live up to them.
This movie opens with the flight already in progress. Faran Tahir is captain William Strong. You might remember Tahir from such blockbusters as Iron-Man and Star Trek (2009) and such TV shows as Once Upon a Time and 12 Monkeys. What you won’t remember him from is Flight World War 2. Strong’s copilot is Daniel Prentice (Matias Ponce). They are flying International Airlines flight 42 from Washington D.C. to London. This airline wins the award for least imaginative fake airline name to ever appear in a movie. And of course there are some passengers and a flight crew, will they be relevant later? I hope not. This movie is called Flight World War 2, so I’m guessing somehow it is going to end up in the past. Best case scenario, the plane arrives over London and is shot down by flak cannons immediately.
Props to the movie, three minutes in and it brings us directly to a little thing I like to call, the inciting incident. The plane begins to experience turbulence, and the people on the ground warn the pilots of a sudden storm materializing out of nowhere. Ground control recommends flying around, but I guess that isn’t Strong’s style (ground control probably hates him almost as much as they hate Major “I love radio silence” Tom). Instead Strong decides flying into the vortex is the best idea. At this moment I experienced a terrible fear that this movie will be The Langoliers.
The plane makes it through the “storm.” In the cockpit, all instruments have gone dead except for the radar. Also, it is now nighttime. The copilot says the sun shouldn’t have set for another 40 minutes. Captain Strong gets on the intercom and informs the passengers that they have cleared the storm, and oh, you might have noticed the sun is suddenly gone now, that can happen sometimes when passing through the tip of the Bermuda Triangle. A more comically idiotic thing for a pilot to say I can’t think of, but then again, there is still lots of time left in this movie. There are a few minutes of back and forth and then Strong makes the decision to dip below cloud cover in order to try and get a bearing.
They come under the clouds, and they find themselves in the middle of a battle. Planes are bombing a city and dogfights are taking place all around. Two passengers are apparently history professors traveling to some conference, they see the planes and get all excited, consulting books and binders. These two guys then force their way up to the cockpit to tell them they have traveled back to 1940 and are positioned over France. Oh, there is some troublemaker who sits in front of them, who is both a jerk and possibly an abuser of women.
Eventually their aimlessly flying around France gets them in touch with a British radio tech on the ground, one Corporal Nigel Sheffield played by Robbie Kay. You might remember him from such things as Heroes Reborn, and Once Upon a Time. In fact, since both Tahir and Kay were in Once Upon a Time, I’m guessing one of them is responsible for both of them appearing in this movie. Anyways, Cpl. Sheffield becomes the Deus Ex Machina for beleaguered flight IA-42.
Anyways, troublemaker (Blaine Gray) looks through a history of WW2 book and immediately becomes convinced they are in the past. He stands up and make a big announcement about how the flight crew are lying to them, and they are now in 1940, and they have a responsibility to kill Hitler. A couple of army dudes in the back disagree, there is a scuffle on the plane, and in the end the army dudes and the flight crew win and troublemaker is relegated to his seat.
Back to just chatting it up with Sheffield on the ground. Everyone is lamenting how the allies don’t have a radar device, oh woe is us. At some point he mentions everyone was killed at Dunkirk (instead of being saved by an armada of fishing boats). The history guys say that isn’t correct. So already we know this is an alternative timeline / universe. That never seems to be relevant later though.
For some reason it is determined the plane has to come below the clouds and turn on its lights. Right after they do this, they are discovered by German jet fighter planes. The historians are like “hey, they shouldn’t have those yet, not for like four more years.” Again more evidence of an alternate past, but whatever. The planes immediately start attacking what must in their minds be an impossibly massive jet plane. This huge plane is then able to somehow outmaneuver those nimble fighter jets. This fight is not without casualties though, because the copilot is shot (and not killed) and the landing gear is damaged. Pilot William Strong asks a flight attendant to take his place while he goes to investigate the landing gear, in what I can only assume is standard operating procedure when the pilot goes anywhere (like the restroom). Among the passengers (or as he thinks of them, the common folk), he tells them the landing gear is fried and asks them for help. In the process he recruits an engineer and a mechanic.
The movie now misses an opportunity for someone to die in order to repair the aircraft. Any director who looked like and was Michael Bay would tell you the movie needs a heroic sacrifice to be a winner. Oh well. Landing gear fixed, now the plane is being shot at by missiles. This time it is apparently from the Brits, who have decided the plane is better destroyed than to fall into enemy hands. How did the Brits get such good surface to air missiles in 1940? Why aren’t they using those against the Germans? We can only assume this information is classified top-secret and filed in a cabinet marked “stupid things that don’t add up.”
The Germans are back, but apparently it is really easy to trick two pilots to collide in midair, so that is what they do. Fuel is becoming a problem and now the crew think maybe they should try to find their way home instead of live out the rest of their days in alternate 1940 France. But they can’t find the storm so they decide to give the radar to the radio tech. With it being fixed on the ground it will be better able to see than 30,000 up in the air. This is sound movie logic if I ever heard it. So they strip the radar, antennae, and then like throw in a tablet, USB charge stick, and maybe a Grays Sports Almanac. In the process they try to gather things to make a parachute, of which most is from a bunch of ponchos they get from an old man. The camera keeps lingering on this old man, all through the film, and it is obvious he is the twist at the end of the movie.
They are dropping the package over German territory, so the Brits go and retrieve it. Somehow the wounded copilot is well enough to help open the door and throw it out. I’m pretty sure they forget he was supposed to be seriously wounded from gunfire sustained from an airplane. Also, no one takes his seat when he leaves. Maybe Strong just didn’t want his seat getting cold in his absence. After a terrible fight scene on the ground, the Brits recover the package and take it back to Sheffield. Now, with zero training, radio operator Cpl. Sheffield hooks up the radar and locates the storm.
Anyways, Deus Ex finds the storm and they fly through it. I would expect them to reappear where they had left, over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no fuel and totally screwed. But no, for some reason they randomly appear over Germany and are able to land at an airport. Everyone deplanes, except the old man. Turns out he is Nigel Sheffield! Not even the captain can muster up any fake surprise for this obvious plot twist. Does this old man fly every flight from DC to London hoping to travel back in time? Is he actually 94 years old (assuming the movie takes place in 2015 and he was 19ish in 1940)? Is he from the other universe where Dunkirk was a failure and the Germans had jet fighters 4 years earlier than in our universe? We may never know the truth.
Going back to that jacket cover. It says “based on true events”, a pretty bold claim, considering they went back to a past that was different from our own. And “The greatest battle that never happened!”? Considering there really wasn’t ever a battle in the movie, I guess that is true, and apparently it was the greatest one. Wish I could have seen that movie.