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Review: 'Runway 34' is Engaging in Parts, But Fails to Have a Perfect Landing

Runway 34 stars Ajay Devgn in the lead role.

Updated
Movie Reviews
3 min read

Runway 34 is propelled by Ajay Devgn’s swag. There is no other way to put it . His slo-mo walk exudes equal doses of cockiness and confidence. Captain Vikrant Mathur has a photographic memory. He never misses a detail, can fly a plane literally with his eyes shut and simply has to press an unlit cigarette between his lips when faced with the prospect of impending death. “Na fuel hai, na visibility, na time” says a panic-stricken co-pilot. That’s essentially how tricky the landing is.

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The story, by Sandeep Kewlani and the screenplay by him and Aleem Kayeen Khan, follows a predictable linear trajectory. All roads lead to the aircraft, and as it takes off the tension soars and so does our attention. Cinematographer Aseem Bajaj‘s frenzied camera work mirrors the tumultuous weather conditions. As fear and hysteria takes control of the passengers on board, leaving the crew and pilots to take charge and calm everyone down, we find ourselves at the edge of our seats, totally hooked on to the proceedings. This is the high point of Runway 34. The cockpit becomes the battleground and the tension is palpable .

A still from Runway 34

There are 150 passengers on board we are told, and while most remain generic there are a few we recognise, like CarryMinati or a gentleman who introduces himself as an Aviation journalist. He comes up with the smartest observation in a pressure cooker situation, and one is not wrong to think he would be of some major consequence, but that’s the last we hear or see of him. The female characters are painted with broad strokes and you can't differentiate one from the other. A pilot, an air hostesses, who are trained to keep their nerves calm in tense situations, freeze in panic or become hysterical themselves. A ready chance for our hero to appear more heroic, and he doesn’t let go of a single opportunity.

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Ajay Devgn, who is also the producer and director, changes gears to give us a more studied courtroom drama in the second half. Narayan Vedant represents the aircraft accident investigation bureau, probing the charges of negligence against the pilots, and Amitabh Bachchan’s booming voice seems to be the only match to Ajay's steely gaze. But the problem remains that apart from a single adjective there is nothing much we know about any of the characters. Bachchan is honest, Boman Irani is a slimy businessman, Rakul plays a wide-eyed first officer Tanya Albuquerque, Angira Dhar is a tough lawyer. They remain types and the narrative is never able to flesh them out.

Runway 34 ends up having a rather uneventful denouement, but the bits it gets right are genuinely engaging.

Our rating: 2.5 Quints out of 5

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