Hijack Season 1 Review: First-rate entertainment and popcorn thrills up in the air

Season 1



Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5


It is quite easy to claim that films set beyond land on a ship or a plane are inherently exciting. Yes, the notional logic is undeniable but the evidence in front of us tells another story. There has been more unmemorable content than memorable in the digital landscape.

Channelizing the tension and extracting the most of such settings in the form of a constantly unfolding plot does not seem to be a problem for Apple TV+’s Hijack, however. Led by a fierce performance by Idris Elba, this seven-part series sets a new standard for entertainment in the air.

With near-perfect pacing and a moving core, Hijack rewrites the conventions of storytelling and character development. Most viewers demand that such scenarios, such as those presented in Hijack, provide something fresh. They expect a twist on the fundamentals of hijacking depictions to surprise them. Hijack does exactly that by following the path less trod. Told in real-time, the characterizations of the show’s brief universe is angled toward most of those involved in the central act rather than fixating on the heroics of an individual. Elba does have his shining moment in the finale – which is quite tacky – but given his personality and stature, the show would have been incomplete without that.

Hijack revolves around the hijacking of Flight 29 which takes off from Dubai for London. The crew who enact it are all British and part of a terrorist organization. But they aren’t terrorists as such with each individual being recruited against their will under coercion. Among the 200-odd passengers is Sam Neil (Elba), a hardcore negotiator with an unorthodox work profile. He seems tailor-made for this situation and leads efforts to ensure the plane lands safely with no one getting killed.

Although Sam has self-interest at the forefront of his initiative, he also uses his skill set to navigate the situation for some of the ill-equipped passengers. While the hijacking unfolds at its own pace in the air, down on the ground, British counterterrorism and Metropolitan PD scamper for answers. Eventually, the desired outcome is not just the release of two high-ranking members of the terrorist organisation but something more vile and revolting.

Arguably the most interesting aspect of the way things play out is Sam’s role in it. The lack of chest-thumping action-man shenanigans is how the creators turn the tables on the viewers. The format is quite saturated now with Liam Neeson’s iconic Non-Stop being one of the last flying remnants. Hence, our expectations of Sam wrestling down the hijackers or taking them on in any other way are upended as he is a smart-thinking and resourceful individual who does the best he can. This version of Sam is more convincing and makes the storytelling better positioned to hold our attention. 

Hijack cleverly avoids anything over the top in its dynamics. Instead, the show uses a real-time structure to drive the enterprise. Each episode has its own life over each part of the seven-hour flight journey. And because there is no lapse between the episodes, viewer engagement is significantly higher. While some episodes are better than others, the callback effect remains intact. Because in this show’s structure, we aren’t building up to the final act.

Even though it’s predictable what will happen in the end, in terms of the plane and its hijacking, Hijack maintains the thrills throughout its runtime. The lack of buildup gives an opportunity for writers to play around more potently with character development. Stuart, the chief hijacker played by Neil Maskell, especially gets stellar support from the creative team but most of the other characters on the plane are given characterizations beyond just being dummies for aggrandizing Elba. They play a role in taking the story forward while also reflecting genuine portrayals of ordinary people afraid for their lives.

One slight disappointment in Hijacking’s storytelling came from how the efforts on the ground were manifested. When compared to the scenes in the air, they were somewhat hollow. It was sort of fuel for the debauchery up in the air than anything else. The investigation into the background of the hijackers and the organization was not established properly. Kai’s “house arrest” arc did not feel inspired and frankly, took the attention away from learning more about the men behind the hijacking. 

Despite these slight flaws, Hijack is a well-defined and committed creative project that makes a sincere effort to engage viewers. While it is not the best that Apple TV+ has to offer, Hijack provides first-rate family entertainment that is hard to come by in today’s OTT madverse. 

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

1 thought on “Hijack Season 1 Review: First-rate entertainment and popcorn thrills up in the air”

  1. Poorly paced, ludicrous plot which requires a suspension of disbelief beyond anyone who has the vaguest knowledge of police, airline and special forces procedures along with natural human reactions.
    The first two episodes were accurately rated as 2.5 and the reviewer seemed to ignore all the stupidity beyond that point.
    This is an ideal watch for those who were left incredulous by the inanity of Trigger Point, since it promises so much in terms of cast and plot outline, only to see that promise ruined by writing so poor that everyone involved should be embarrassed by the final result.
    In other words, a good hate watch.

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