It Barely Takes Off
If I tell you that "Nowhere to Land" is about a bomb on a plane you can hazard a guess at what to expect. And to be honest your guess is most likely going to be right because this is your standard disaster, thriller which all the routine elements which fill these sorts of movies. The fact that "Nowhere to Land" also happens to be a TV movie doesn't help any as it doesn't have any of the big action scenes which its big budget counterparts trade on. In fairness it's not terrible for a TV movie, the ending almost gets exciting, but it is just a very average and very obvious TV disaster movie.
Having followed his former wife and her new husband to Sydney, Phillip Deacon (Mark Lee) plants a bomb on the plane they are returning to Los Angeles on and he waits till the plane is too far on its journey to turn back before calling the airline to tell them. With the nearest airport 2 hours away and with the timer on the bomb giving them just one hour Captain John Prescott (Jack Wagner) must try to defuse the bomb with the aid of bomb disposal expert Danny Gorlin (Ernie Hudson - The Basketball Diaries) on the end of the phone. But it soon becomes apparent that Deacon was no fool and had stolen a deadly bio-chemical to use in the bomb which makes it not only more dangerous to defuse but also more deadly if it goes off.
Now as already mentioned "Nowhere to Land" is quite routine and during the opening 30 minutes we meet all the various people who will be on the plane whilst also learning about the bomb. As such we get the cliche young couple who meet on the plane, the friendly old timer so to speak and several other generic characters including the handsome and heroic pilot. What is different and to be honest makes "Nowhere to Land" a bit laughable is that we are not talking terrorists but a really pissed former husband of a passenger who is willing to blow up the plane and kill all the passengers to make sure his ex-wife and new husband die. It's seriously stupid as is the opening scenes which see him stalking his former wife and new husband around Sydney, Australia, taking photos before building the bomb to take aboard the plane.
With the intro out of the way and with the sort of twist that the former husband exits the plane before it takes off we get the drama which is two fold. We have the drama on the plane where they learn of the bomb and we also have the drama back in Sydney as the FBI, who just happens to be in Australia, and the Australian police try and track down this bomber. To be frank it's all very obvious from passengers becoming suspicious of what is happening on the plane through to the Captain tentively trying to examine the bomb as the plain flies through turbulent air. The only good thing is that we get Ernie Hudson as a bomb disposal expert who maybe quite literally telephones in his performance at least adds some humour and trust me a few laughs don't go a miss in such a run of the mill movie.
All of which leads to the expected big drama, will they diffuse the bomb, will the bomber be caught and do you really care at this point. As stupid as the opening scenes are the ending is just as stupid going the extra mile to try and deliver a double ending, one which is comical. But to be fair there are moments during this dramatic finale when there is a sense of frantic drama, the clock ticking down etc etc as the Captain desperately tries to diffuse the bomb. To be honest it doesn't take a genius to work out the in the nick of time ending, well it is unlikely to see a plane explode killing all its passengers, not only does it not make pleasant viewing but as a TV movie it hasn't the budget to pull it off.
And that to be honest is about it the cast and characters are petty forgettable in a very generic sort of way with only Christine Elise making an impression as the co-pilot and I think it's because I remember seeing her in something else and can't remember what it was. Actually whilst the performances are forgettable none of them are terrible and Jack Wagner delivers pretty much everything you expect from the hero character in a TV movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Nowhere to Land" is not only pretty much everything you expect from a disaster thriller aboard a plane but also everything you expect from a TV movie. As such it is basically both obvious and forgettable but it is not completely terrible.