Captain Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn) is an accomplished and self-possessed pilot whose next mission is to fly Skyline Airway from Dubai to Cochin along with his First Officer Tanya Albuquerque (Rakul Preet Singh) but the aerial journey gets complicated when a cyclone hits Cochin and are diverted to Trivandrum. A miscommunication jeopardizes their landing because Trivandrum is also affected by the bad weather. And during all this, Captain Vikrant attempts to save all the lives from an aviation disaster.
Runway 34 is a thriller film also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani. And within a film, there are two films or shall I say a film easily divided into two different parts of the continuity. The first half of the screentime is about the flight, the aerial sequence of Vikrant and Tanya; and the second half is about the courtroom drama, the inquiry about facts and findings to determine whether the pilots were at fault or not.
My observation is also divided into two and perhaps this is why Runway 34 failed at the box office but that is the other debate to look after. The first half was a remarkable aviation tale to dramatize. An interesting build-up to a flight. Ajay Devgn, the director himself, presented the character of Vikrant in a way to the audience that we realize that the captain is self-possessed, cold, confident, problem-fixer, and eideticker. And then the preparation of flying the plane. Here, I liked the editing of the film, in fact, the whole first half had the drama holding distinction in the editing. Yes, I expected a better ambiance building from the passengers due to the low-scale acting. But more than that, the first half gave us quite an intensity you really do not expect from a mainstream film from B-town. Not an expert or hold some advanced knowledge about aviation so really cannot judge the entire pilot-to-pilot conversation or the one with the air traffic control tower.
As much as the first half peaked with excellence in most aspects, the second half lets you down. It was easily one of the worst follow-ups from an impressive first half I have watched in recent years. And I am surprised because usually, the dramatizing of courtroom sequences is mostly the one that captivates the audience. Even Hindi films from the past decade hold quite an impressive track record of courtroom dramas. And here, that should have been a piece of a delicious red velvet cake, and moreover that having the luxury of two highly impressive lengthy dialogue-speaking actors, Ajay and Amitabh, the courtroom drama failed to live up to the hype and ruined the film.
The settlement of the courtroom and the entire proceeding was boring, predictable, and built on dubious writing. Amitabh’s Narayan Vedant, the head of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was certainly a brain teaser in the courtroom sequences but the character was not developed nor did we get a magnitude of investigation on a broad scale. Narayan’s fact-finding needed a lot of minutes. There was no heat between Vikrant and Narayan. I wanted to see the same intensity in the courtroom sequences as Ajay Devgn built in the flight sequences. Vikrant’s wife being so cool about discovering that her husband was partying with some Anjali that the whole night looked so artificial. How did the passenger, whose mother died, get Vikrant’s number? In light humor, Ajay Devgn was quite inclined to advertise smoking cigarettes throughout the film.
Acting-wise, they were all to their usual, nothing special. We have watched Amitabh giving lengthy addresses quite a lot in his recent films. Rakul perhaps gets a career boost through this film.
I have observed most of the audience on social media comparing Runway 34 to Clint Eastwood‘s Sully and Robert Zemeckis‘ Flight and declaring it copied which is utter nonsense. Runway 34 is based on the real incident that happened in 2015 when Jet Airways flight 9W 555, a Boeing 737-800, flew from Doha to Kochi but the pilot decided to divert to Trivandrum.
The viewers need to fact-check because due to the negativity, the idea of watching a certain film is taken into a negative perspective. As far as I can write about this film, Runway 34’s biggest disappointment is the second half which ruined a promising first half. The execution went wrong; therefore the film missed out on talking about a quality aviation story.