Idris Elba has established himself as one of the best actors of the generation with powerhouse performances in projects like The Wire, Luther, Beasts of No Nation etc. He has also proved his versatility with a range of roles including villains, anti-heroes, comedic roles and voice roles. He has carried a story several times, just by the sheer brilliance of his performance. His performance in the new thriller limited series Hijack is yet another reminder of his incredible talent on screen.
Hijack is created by George Kay and Jim Field-Smith and stars Idris Elba, Archie Panjabi, Ben Miles, Max Beesley, Eve Myles, Niell Maskell among others. The official synopsis says, “Told in real time, “Hijack” is a tense thriller that follows the journey of a hijacked plane as it makes its way to London over a seven-hour flight, and authorities on the ground scramble for answers.” We haven’t seen a lot of memorable hijack-thrillers, certainly non that have been executed the way Hijack has been executed, which makes it a unique and fresh offering for the audiences. This is something that Apple has been doing very well in recent years.
The structuring of the show is quite creative. It’s a seven-hour story, told within seven hour-long episodes, with each episode covering the events that take place within that hour. The show starts out on a steady note and takes its time to set up the plot. It gets going once the actual hijack of the plane starts. The fact that the story is told in real-time really helps the narrative, and it establishes the high stakes involved in the situation where the lives of over 200 people are at risk. We also simultaneously switch between what’s happening on the ground and what’s happening inside the flight, which adds perspective to the motivations behind the characters’ actions.
The tone of the show is one of its main highlights. The narrative is dark, ominous and thrilling, which is brilliantly complemented by great color grading and creates a chilling and convincing visual narrative. The directors also do well to maintain the intensity throughout the episodes and the viewer will always feel a sense of constant tension and fear for what will happen next. It is probably some of the best tension-building I’ve ever seen, and I could sense the paranoia on the face of the passengers. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t stick the landing and it feels like the writers ran out of ideas.
The first half of the story does a great job of making the viewer care about the characters and getting them invested in the story. The setup also promises an exciting payoff that never arrives. The narrative gets messy, especially in the last couple of episodes and a lot of subplots that were touched on during the whole narrative, are not revisited. A lot of the flight passengers also don’t get to wrap up their own subplots. Another problem that viewers may have is that this story is a slow burn and will demand patience from the viewer.
Hijack is an intense thriller that has some incredible tension building and a brilliant performance by Idris Elba, who steadies the ride in its turbulent moments. Its premise is promising and offers a lot of compelling sequences, but doesn’t quite stick the landing. The solid supporting cast and chilling tone hold and steer the narrative nicely, but that does not result in a satisfying experience overall. But this is still a fresh and engaging thriller, that is definitely worth a watch.
Hijack will stream on AppleTV+ from June 28 with its first two episodes, with subsequent episodes releasing weekly.