It all begins rather routinely.
A flight scheduled from Berlin to Paris.
An empty plane. The
crew enters. German pilot and
American copilot enter the cockpit and begin their preparations.
The flight attendants enter the main cabin and begin theirs. One of
the flight attendants brings food and water to the cockpit.
Another of the flight attendants whispers in the ear of the
co-pilot; it seems they are talking about househunting together.
Later, as the passengers begin boarding, the pilot and the
co-pilot, who don't seem to know each other, exchange some lighthearted
remarks about the flight attendant. Turns
out she's more than a love interest; she's a fiancee; they have a
two-year-old son together. The
pilot is contacted by ground control about a possible delay due to two
passengers being late to board, though their luggage is already stowed in
the baggage compartment. The
pilot faces a quick decision whether he will delay takeoff, but then the
two passengers suddenly appear. Is
this the anamoly we're expecting to happen?
No. But it is a
foreshadowing. What seems
routine will quickly turn into chaos.
After takeoff, somehow the cockpit door opens, and both pilot and
co-pilot are attacked. Both
suffer wounds, but manage to (temporarily) overcome their attackers, and
get the door closed again. There's
more of the hijackers outside, banging on the door.
They're apparently armed with “shivs”, homemade knives made out
of jagged glass, which apparently slipped through all the security
The co-pilot, Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sends a “7500”
message, code for an active hijacking.
He's wounded in his left arm, but manages to ask ground control for
permission to undertake an emergency landing in Hanover.
But the hijackers that are still outside the cockpit are
threatening to kill hostages unless he lets them inside.
Of course, that includes his fiancee.
What follows is one of those tight little dramas where you can
almost smell the sweat and the fear and the blood.
Tobias makes the mistake of checking the monitor outside the
cockpit, even though he knows he can't allow anyone to come in, no matter
how much banging and screaming he hears.
He even begs the passengers to come forward themselves to fight the
hijackers, and we think what we need here are a couple of fearless
Yes, it's difficult for all of us think of airplane hijackers
without being reminded of 9/11, the watershed moment when international
terrorism came to our shores, and our security procedures were forever
altered. It's also difficult
to generate any sympathy for any of the hijackers, but how about if one is
very young, and cries when he gets a call on his cell phone from his
You would expect a hijacking scenario to not indulge in a
happily-ever-ending, and this one is no exception.
It is, however, starkly real, and feels like it could happen
tomorrow. We're just all
hoping it won't.