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Hijack review — a tensely-paced throwback with a disappointing finale

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


Here is our review of the 2023 Apple TV+ series Hijack, which does not contain significant spoilers.

There's much to admire about Hijack, including its headlining star, Idris Elba. The story presents a thinking fan's thriller, a rarity in today's times. Moreover, it's only sometimes you can offer a series with a well-rounded, three-dimensional character with flaws and the ability to think on their feet while keeping the viewer on the edge of their seats.

However, despite my certainty that Apple TV+ will try to stretch this "limited" series into a franchise, the show falls apart by the last episode. That creates a challenge when recommending the show, even though the first six episodes can be exciting and suspenseful.

I never thought a show could be ruined by the heroic character saying two little words that are so cheesy and have no place in the script, but it nearly has. It's as if the executives at Apple TV+ found a test audience to convince them they needed an unnecessary cherry on top. 

Hijack Review and Plot Summary

The story follows Sam Nelson (Elba), a "fixer" of sorts. Sam has just finished a job and is flying back to see his estranged wife, Marsha (Christine Adams of The Mandalorian), and son, Kai (Halo’s Jude Cudjoe). Unfortunately for Sam, Marsha tells him to get off the plane, and she doesn't want to see him. That's because she's seeing Daniel (Max Beesley), a cop who keeps Sam's former side of the bed warm at night.

After boarding the plane and just after takeoff, a young woman finds a bullet in the bathroom. She informs a friendly gentleman who gives off those grandfatherly vibes and volunteers to take it up with the flight attendant. Unfortunately for her and the flight, he is one of a handful of men and women about to take the flight hostage.

A group led by Stuart (Peaky Blinders' Neil Maskell) immediately focuses on Colette (Atlanta’s Kate Phillips), a pretty blonde flight attendant. Stuart takes her to the door of the pilot's cabin and points a gun at her head. Why does Stuart focus on her? That's because she's sleeping with the plane's captain (Andor’s Ben Miles), and somehow this group of terrorists has dirt on almost everyone on the flight.

George Kay and Jim Field Smith created Hijack, and the series benefits from a great sense of pacing and tension. Like the show 24, the Apple TV+ excels at building up to climactic final scenes, keeping the viewer hooked and eager to binge the next chapter. Elba's stoic and thought-provoking performance contributes significantly to this, along with well-placed reveals from the series' villains.

That part of the plot, of why the villains have decided to take over the plane, is also interesting and very similar to the Elba Netflix film Luther: The Fallen Sun. This leads to a terrific reveal by the end penultimate episode that is satisfying and has jaw-dropping shock value. However, the finale is the problem with Hijack.

Minor character actions in previous episodes are highlighted to a damaging degree. A gratuitous death is treated as the person pulling the trigger has no choice, which is incorrect. And the final scene feels like a puzzle piece forced on the audience that was wholly unnecessary and illogical, based on the plot point of why the hijackers are there in the first place.

Is Hijack good or bad?

Hijack is a good series that takes a nosedive into average with a weak finale that would have significantly benefited from a heartfelt approach than any quippy retort that misses the mark.

Is Hijack worth watching?

Hijack is worth watching if you are a fan of 90s-style action films, like Air Force One or Passenger 57, which are in short supply nowadays—also a fan of Idris Elba. Otherwise, you may feel cheated by sticking with a series with a finale as pandering as this one.

Grade: 6/10 "Hijack is a tensely-paced throwback with a disappointing finale."

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