Hijack Review: Idris Elba Does His Best Gerard Butler

Apple TV+’s real time plane action drama Hijack is a fun vehicle for Idris Elba to do his thing.

Idris Elba in "Hijack," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple TV+

This Hijack review contains no spoilers.

Who remembers the last time we got a gripping airplane thriller with an intense script and a charismatic lead actor? Well, hopefully, many of you since Jean-Francois Richet’s B flick, Plane, starring Gerard Butler, has only come out at the beginning of the year, and it was a surprisingly enjoyable ride. Apple TV+’s latest 7-part miniseries, Hijack, aims to ride a similar, if more high-level, wave, and for the most part, it does it with utter confidence thanks to its sharp writing and a surly Idris Elba as its lead.

The hook for Hijack to attract viewers is a plot that unfolds in real-time (each episode covering about an hour of a 7-hour flight from Dubai to London) featuring an accomplished, mostly British cast, including regulars like Neil Maskell, Max Beesley, and Ben Miles. Of course, the main appeal of George Kay and Jim Field Smith’s miniseries is its nail-biting high-concept premise of the hijacking itself, which begins as a carefully constructed masterplan and ends by going off the rails as we get close to its final hour. Elba plays Sam Nelson, a skilled business negotiator who instead of trying to become a hero offers to work with the bad guys to execute and achieve their mission without any casualties.

Hijack largely succeeds because it dances around clichés with finesse. Sam isn’t your typical, easily likeable protagonist. His personal life is in shambles which carries over to his general demeanor: He’s morose, sulky, and keeps to himself. The very reason he’s on this flight is his inability to take no for an answer, which might help him in his work but tends to derail his close relationships. Sam is going back to London to make up with his estranged ex-wife, who’s already planning her future with another man. It’s evident from the beginning that she wants nothing to do with him, but he boards the plane anyway, knowing his marriage is long gone. That stubborn insistence is what helps him keep his cool and negotiate with a bunch of pale criminals.


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