What a mess. Turbulence starts off as a pretty tired aerial thriller - a dimly lit battle of wills between an emotional stewardess and a serial murderer who has nothing to live for - then abandons this concept to skip between preposterous action and unintentional comedy. Part Airport (pilots are dead, stewardess has to land the plane), part The Shining (mad, grinning axe-wielder chases alarmed woman), part Twister (lots of wind) and part The Boston Strangler (old-fashioned neck throttling), Turbulence was never going to be a cinematic colossus.
Yes, a cynical, overplayed formula film can still be entertaining. Twister was a rip-roaring load of old cobblers; and Independence Day gets better with each viewing. But Turbulence is grade-A shite. After the initial toilet escape, the next 45 minutes is an extended "chase" sequence in which Holly's frightened stewardess and Liotta's Lonely Hearts Killer crawl around the aisles buffeted by cross-winds.
At first, Liotta does a good job of playing the wrongly accused innocent - until the script requires him to lose his marbles, cackle, dribble and threaten to crash the 747 into downtown LA. He has nothing to lose: if he lands, he goes to Death Row and the gas chamber; if he lawn-darts the Jumbo, he goes out in a glorious blaze of aviation fuel.
But when Holly locks herself in the cockpit, Liotta's plans go awry. On the ground, Brit 747 pilot Ben Cross tries to talk her down, while an FBI agent demands that the plane be shot out of the sky ("She's only a stewardess," says the Fed; "She's a flight attendant!" snaps a female flight controller). Cheap, barely suspenseful suspense abounds in the final 15 minutes, as the aircraft approaches LAX airport - Liotta overacting to the end and Holly removing her blouse to enhance her Bruce Willis Die Hard impression.
Then the aircraft skims the top of a multi-storey car park. Vehicles are destroyed, a truck gets caught on the undercarriage and onlookers gasp in Airplane!esqe horror. "That's terrible," whispers a bit-part actress, little knowing how right she is.