TV Review: Hijack (Episodes 1+2)

The first couple of episodes of Hijack are good but is there going to be more to it than just 24 on a plane…?

“If this is what is going wrong in the first hour, imagine what could happen in the next six”

‘What if we remade 24, but on a plane?’ You can imagine the pitch for new AppleTV+ series Hijack going down a storm and in these opening two episodes, you certainly do get a sense of its dramatic appeal. Set in real-time on a seven-hour flight rom Dubai to London, a hijacking plot has to deal with the presence of Luther Sam Nelson played by Idris Elba, a hard-nosed business negotiator increasingly convinced that he can save the day.

There’s a fair amount of set-up going on here, naturally, a plane-load of passengers to get to know, a group of hijackers to take us by surprise and a crew to sort everyone out. This latter group make the most impact early on – Ben Miles’ lascivious captain and Kaisa Hammarlund’s first officer powerfully effective in the cockpit, with Zora Bishop, Jeremy Ang Jones and Kate Phillips as the key cabin crew caught in the crossfire.

And in case you were wondering how they’d manage to sustain all seven episodes with shenanigans on the plane, there’s visits to the wider world of the crisis on land. There’s a fascinating look at what counts for normal family life in Dubai, a thread I hope the show doesn’t lose as it is rarely seen; and British air traffic control soon get involved with Eve Myles’ Alice Sinclair looking to get properly stuck in with all her experience.

Frustratingly, there’s also the wouldn’t-you-know-it connections that are painfully contrived. Nelson’s estranged wife, whom he manages to text with details of the hijack, is now dating Max Beesley’s Daniel O’Farrel who is a Met Police officer whose own dating history includes Archie Panjabi’s counter-terrorism head DCI Zahra Gahfoor who can instantly get things moving on the ground. We’ll see how it goes but the presence of a moody teenager also doesn’t bode well for non-24-esque ridiculousness.

There’s potential here, not least in the mix of passengers and the presumed revelations of what the hijackers actually want. But the real-time element already feels a little stretched, as cutting between the different locations saps any sense of uniqueness about it and works against genuine tension being built up, so far at least.

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