Flying soon? Get into the mood with one of these 10 airplane movies. Fair warning: Many of these films may increase your apprehension about flying. If you’re looking to mentally prepare yourself for the journey ahead, you might try yoga or meditation instead. Movies tend to have these things called “plots,” which usually means the protagonist encounters some sort of struggle or danger. If you’re already nervous about flying, watching airplane movies probably isn’t the smartest idea. But if you’re the adventurous type, these films can make your flying experience a little more exciting.
Would it make sense to start with anything else? This classic comedy is a satirical spoof on the disaster movie genre, particularly the 1957 film Zero Hour!. It is consistently ranked one of the funniest movies of all time. When food poisoning renders an aircraft’s crew unable to fly, a nervous ex-pilot must step up and save the day.
If you’re flying with kids, you might want to steer clear of this one. In this 2005 thriller, a woman (Jodie Foster) loses her daughter aboard a transatlantic flight. When she inquires for help, nobody will admit to ever seeing the child aboard the plane. Flightplan is a psychological thrill ride that keeps you guessing right up to the very end.
I wonder if the president ever watches Air Force One during flights just to get pumped. This 1997 action-thriller stars Harrison Ford as the president of the United States. When Air Force One is hijacked mid-flight, he must work in secret to defeat the hijackers and save his family. The film was nominated for two Oscars.
Die Hard 2
This one takes place more in an airport than an airplane. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, a Los Angeles police officer who must stop a terrorist takeover of the Dulles International airport. McClane’s wife is circling in a plane overhead, waiting to land. McClane must thwart the terrorist plot before the incoming planes run out of fuel and crash.
Absurd, corny and exploitative, Snakes on a Plane is a rare example of a “bad” movie able to garner a degree of critical praise. An FBI agent, played by Samuel L. Jackson, goes up against a plane full of deadly snakes, released to kill a passenger on his way to testify against a mob boss. If you get a good chuckle from cheesy B-movie cinema, Snakes on a Plane is worth a watch.
This 2004 comedy features a slew of familiar pop-culture faces, including Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion), Godfrey, Method Man and more. After winning a $100 million settlement against an airline, Nashawn Wade (played by Kevin Hart) starts his own airline tailored for African-Americans and the hip-hop culture. The aircraft is equipped with a dance club, lower-rider hydraulics and spinners.
Unlike the other movies listed here, Amelia is not about commercial flights. Rather, it is a biopic of the legendary American pilot, Amelia Earhart. The 2009 film didn’t receive great reviews, but it’s a least a history lesson of sorts. Hilary Swank plays Earhart and acts alongside such notable talent as Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston.
Quarantine 2: Terminal
If you dig cheesy horror flicks, this one is for you. In this 2011 film, a rabies-like virus spreads through an airplane cabin during flight. When the plane lands, the passengers are quarantined in the terminal and must band together to survive as one-by-one they turn into zombies. Again, not a great film, but enjoyable if you know what you’re getting into.
Up in the Air is one of the few legitimately “good” movies on our list. This 2009 dramedy follows the travels of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate “downsizer” who fires people for a living. The film received much critical esteem, including 6 academy award nominations. If you watch one of our 10 movies, make it this one.
Directed by Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) and starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, it’s no wonder Red Eye was met by predominantly positive critical reception. Yet another thriller (airplanes apparently lend themselves well to the genre), the film tells a tale of a woman kidnapped by a stranger and coerced into a plot to kill a politician.