Declaration of Emergency (2022) movie review

Crew members and passengers of the flight fight panic as they plan a course of action with calm and noble officials, especially Transport Minister Sook-hee (Jeon), but also In-ho and his police colleagues. These main protagonists don’t really have personalities beyond what the scene demands of them, whether planning an emergency landing in Seongmu or swapping one in-flight meal for another. Hee-jin, Jae-hyuk, and Sook-hee all inevitably assert themselves, but their heroic actions are often just as funny and amazing as Jin-seok’s cartoonish villainy.

At one point, Lee’s character gives a flowery, drawn-out speech that explains why he, acting on behalf of his fellow travelers, selflessly chose to take evasive action. Jae-hyuk’s explanations sound as bombastic and self-righteous as the worst Oscar acceptance speech, especially when he explains that “because we’re human…there are things only we can do.” Now we intend to make a decision for the good of all. A few canned reaction shots suggest Jae-hyuk’s other passengers have already resigned themselves to their fate since they too are passively listening to Lee.

In another key scene, K1501 passengers use their Wi-Fi-enabled phones to reassure loved ones and solve unfinished business. These sketchy, pseudo-banal exchanges are not only emotionally stillborn, but also visually stifling as they are presented as a series of picture-in-picture video chat calls. We look up at tear-stained, distorted faces and listen to cutesy conversations about Grandma’s cooking – “I’m sorry I said your food tasted bad” – and saving for rainy days: “Behind there I hid money. Buy candy.

After a few overheated exchanges, the camera’s field of view disappears once the people onscreen are reduced to a smaller frame within the frame. Then the next scene begins, as this plane must return to earth somehow, on behalf of humanity and by any means necessary.

Now showing in theaters.

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