At the start of 2020, before all the pandemic nonsense was in full swing, I was playing with my youngest son, then only 4 months old. Now, anyone with any baby experience will know that their fingernails are like tiny razor blades and they just grow like crazy so that, if you don’t keep on top of it, you can end up with something akin to a 2-foot Wolverine.
While playing, my son reached out for my face and, as he did, his finger slipped below my eyelid and on to my eyeball. The pain was excruciating and, upon taking a trip to the hospital, I was informed that I had a laceration on my cornea. “Take these eye drops, use this antibiotic cream, it should heal in a few days.” “Thanks doc.” Well, when that didn’t happen and I returned to the hospital some days later, effectively blind, it was discovered that actually the laceration was worse than originally thought and it was decided that the healing process should be ‘helped along’ by simply removing the top layer of my cornea. So in go the anaesthetic eye drops, “open your eye wide and we’ll make a start now.” It was as delightful as it sounds.
Watching Horizon Line was not unlike that experience.
... a case for never attempting to elevate TV stars to movieland ever again.
What I usually do at this point is give a brief explanation of the premise but rather than doing that, I thought I’d share a little nugget of information from Wikipedia. Next month the film is set to receive a cinema release in Japan under a different title. The translation of that title, according to Wikipedia? The story of how I flew a Cessna with my ex-boyfriend and the pilot died.
This is, in fact, exactly what happens and Jackson and Sarah, the ex-couple, are left flying a plane with no idea how to fly a plane and only a litany of monumentally bad luck (and inexplicable sudden instrument failure) for company.
Attempting to break out of their respective roles of The Last Kingdom’s Uhtred, son of Uhtred and Girls’ annoying friend, Marnie, Alexander Dreymon and Allison Williams do not acquit themselves admirably. In fact, they make a case for never attempting to elevate TV stars to movieland ever again. Never mind the storms, the fuel shortage and the broken equipment, between Dreymon’s faltering “American” accent and Williams’ machine-gun-delivery-of-mostly-screaming, watching these two painfully incompatible ex-lovers flirt is the real ordeal here.
But, hey! Maybe it’s not their fault! Horizon Line is, after all, clearly a perfect storm of agents shouting down the phone that they’ve got their clients leading parts and film producers whose thought process goes no further than, “I know a guy in Mauritius with a plane… I bet I could make a movie out of that!”
Well it turns out you can’t.
Or, maybe you can, but you need a script that consists of more than people telling each other what is happening on screen and maybe not set in an alternate reality where everyone says each other’s names all the time. “Our GPS is broken, Sara!” “Oh no, Jackson! Now what will we do?” “I know, Sara, I’ll use my phone!” “But Jackson, your phone is out of battery!” I GET IT! THEY ARE CALLED JACKSON AND SARA! JACKSON AND SARA! JACKSON AND SARA!
... don’t even get me started on Chekhov’s shark.
The movie puts the irredeemably stupid couple through the ringer for an-hour-and-some forcing them through a storm, having to decide what cargo to unceremoniously shove into the ocean in order to lighten the aircraft and make the fuel last longer (crate of rum, or body of a dear friend? It’s a puzzler!), working out whether or not rum can fuel an aircraft (it can!) and not stressing out about whether or not they’re going to get eaten by a shark if they crash.
There are repeated set-ups for dangers that don’t pan out, repeated attempts at salvation that go nowhere, intentional and unintentional interactions with aeroplane wings in a variety of ridiculous situations, and don’t even get me started on Chekhov’s shark…
But look, the couple might be irredeemable, but the film isn’t! It’s got Keith David in it! Keith David! I won’t spoil who he is but I will say there are only 3 real characters in the movie. Oh, I just realised which screen grab I used above, I guess I already spoiled it. Anyway, he’s great! He’s too good for this nonsense… But maybe he got a free holiday to Mauritius? Pretty sweet deal, Keith! Maybe he got some of that incredibly powerful jet-fuel rum too. Worth it.
Okay, look, go watch it. It’s an experience. A bad one that I wish to inflict on others the way that it was inflicted on me. While you do that, I’ll go look for a drink. I’ve not had anything except Plane Rum for like… two hours? And I’m very literally dying of thirst.
Horizon Line is available now on Amazon Prime Video… if you’re morbidly curious.
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