You haven't had this much intense fun with an action thriller in a long time.
Not since 24 has a ‘real time’ drama been as much fun as Hijack, the new 7 part thriller starring Idris Elba.
It’s a 6hr 45min flight from Dubai to London for business passenger Sam Nelson (Elba) on Kingdom Airways, about an hour short of unscripted flights I suppose.
The clever trick in the story by Jim Field Smith and George Kay is the seven episodes track the seven hour flight as it is hijacked not long after wheels up. Spoiler?
Sam is a corporate negotiator heading home to son Kai (Jude Cudjoe) and estranged wife Marsha (Christine Adams) with whom he is hoping to reconcile. But Marsha has already moved on with local detective Daniel (Max Beesley).
Like a classic Airport ’75 plane, this is a manifest full of characters and stories, all colliding in economy, business and amongst flight crew. There are introductory glimpses of families, seniors, single passengers of varying nationalities (including one Aussie), most of which will expand at one point or another. They include the young woman who makes a peculiar discovery in the bathroom after take-off, and the chummy Brit who helps her get to the bottom of it.
Yet ever-observant Sam can’t help but notice a tense conversation between passengers (Neil Maskell & Jasper Britton) which, as the title suggests, leads to a full blown hijack scenario with guns, hostages and demands.
To detail much more would deny you the thrill-ride you have already boarded from the safety of your couch.
But the series does expand to negotiations from the ground, in both Dubai and principally, London. These include Mohamed Faisal Mostafa as a cluey Dubai Air Traffic Controller, Archie Panjabi as a Counter Terrorist expert and Eve Myles as a plucky British Air Traffic Controller whose ability to follow instincts is one of the more gallant and satisfying performances of the series.
What’s constantly kept at arm’s length from the viewer in early episodes is how some activites on the ground are linked to the crisis happening in the sky, but the deck of cards gradually becomes evident as the series progresses, all without ever taking the foot off the accelerator.
From the first episode this is a tense ride, full of jolts and brinkmanship, constantly ramping up to episode cliffhangers that compel you to dive into the next episode (be warned, two episodes at premiere, then weekly).
Idris Elba is a man you want on your team in the case of a crisis and as a corporate negotiator here, Sam charts an unexpected course.
Even in a genre that has been heavily dramatised on screen, Hijack manages to find new twists.
There’s but a handful of slightly incredulous moments (I’ve never been on a flight where this many people were so restrained from needing the toilet) but you forgive such shortcomings for the sheer popcorn excitement of it all.
Hijack is an intense game of cat and mouse 30,000 feet in the air. Fasten your seat belts.
Hijack screens Wednesday on Apple TV+