Runway 34 Review: Ajay Devgn overcomes the turbulence in the script by worldbuilding and ensures a safe landing
A top-notch production design, captivating cinematography, and smart editing make Runway 34 an immersive experience.
Director: Ajay Devgn
Writers: Sandeep Kewlani, Aamil Keeyan Khan
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Amitabh Bachchan, Rakul Preet Singh
Cinematography: Aseem Bajaj
Production Design: Sabu Cyril, Sriram Iyengar, Sujeet Sawant
Released in theatres.
The most noteworthy thing about Ajay Devgn’s Runway 34 is its worldbuilding. A top-notch production design, captivating cinematography, and smart editing make for an immersive experience. The film inspired by true events is about an emergency flight landing and the investigation that follows. The exterior scenes of the flight caught up in a storm and attempting landing are works of supreme visual and special effects. Most of Devgn’s films have superior VFX courtesy of his company NYVFXWALA.
The writers and director don’t waste time in establishing the protagonist, his need, and the hurdle. Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn), an ace pilot of Skyline Airways, has been flying for a week. All he wants to do after his flight from Dubai to Cochin is to go home to his wife and celebrate his daughter’s birthday. Accompanying him on flying this flight is his co-pilot Tanya Albuquerque (Rakul Preet Singh). Young Tanya is in awe of Vikrant. But she gets a reality check soon after she gets into the cockpit with him. Supremacy is most often intimidating. There’s a heavy debate on whether the flight should be taken to Bengaluru or Trivandrum because the weather at the flight’s destination Cochin is bad. A storm is nearing.
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Runway 34 gets the intricacies of the flight operation, mannerisms of the crew, and jargon of instructions/signals right. The two leads Devgn and Rakul look their parts. Devgn carries the fatigue experienced by Vikrant with ease. Rakul doesn’t have as much as Devgn to do but she is sincere in her portrayal of Tanya. She does well in the breakdown scenes with Amitabh Bachchan during their trial. Yes, Amitabh Bachchan plays a cocktail of his KBC and Pink hangover. Very few directors (mainly Shoojit Sircar) have managed to keep his Bachchan-ness away from the characters the veteran actor plays. Devgn doesn’t succeed on that front.
But if you can overlook that aspect of Bachchan’s performance, the Bachchan-Devgn jugalbandi is supported by some witty dialogue and is enjoyable. There’s also Boman Irani playing a caricature as Skyline’s owner. Angira Dhar as Skyline’s lawyer is merely present in the film.
While the worldbuilding is immersive, Runway 34 suffers from a lack of emotional connection. The angle of a passenger’s death on her way to the hospital and Vikrant feeling guilty about it feels force-fed. Despite the two leads Vikrant Tanya going through so much, I didn’t feel invested in them. I could watch the drama unfold from a distance. And I am a type of audience who wants to find something to relate to in the characters on-screen.
The film takes off splendidly and the first half is riveting for the most part. The action up in the sky amidst the storm is meant to be watched on the big screen. There’s some turbulence in the script but Devgn overcomes it with worldbuilding and ensures a safe landing. It’s popcorn entertainment. Two hours will pass like a breeze.