THE 5 AIRPORT MOVIES THAT INSPIRED AIRSIDE
Guest Post by James Swallow,
author of AIRSIDE
When I started working on the concept for my new standalone thriller, I knew I wanted to tell a story set in a confined location over the course of one night, with an everyman protagonist trapped in a series of worsening events as his poor choices spiral out of control.
I realized the perfect setting was an airport – and with that, I had my title: AIRSIDE.
Anyone who has flown will be familiar with the two airport “zones” – landside, before passport control and airside, where the planes depart. In pre-pandemic days, while working on a project involving a lot of flying, I spent hours in airports and on airliners, stuck in that limbo state between destinations. If you’ve ever waited aimlessly for a delayed flight, you’ll know that sense of being trapped in this air travel no-man’s-land!
But as well as drawing inspiration from my own experiences, I reached back to some iconic airport movies for the themes and tones throughout AIRSIDE...
1) Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) – Embattled cop John McClane is the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time in this action-paced airport-situated sequel; if you can find it, track down 58 Minutes, the original thriller by Walter Wager that the movie was based on.
2) The Terminal (2004) – Partly inspired by a true story, when a military coup in his native country leaves an ordinary guy rendered nationless, he’s trapped him in the titular terminal at New York’s JFK Airport as he is unable to enter the US or fly home, in a light comedy that nails the unreality of the airside life.
3) Up in the Air (2009) – Based on the novel by Walter Kirn, a corporate executive criss-crosses the USA for his job, living out of a suitcase and living inside the world of airports and short-stay hotels; this is the ultimate “frequent flyer” movie.
4) Flightplan (2005) – This high-tension suspense thriller pits a single-mother aircraft engineer against a jet’s worth of suspicious crew and anxious passengers when her daughter goes missing in mid-air, as she struggles to prove her sanity and uncover the truth in an airborne take on The Lady Vanishes.
5) Airport (1970) – I couldn’t end my list without referring to this grand disaster yarn, based on the bestselling Arthur Hailey novel of the same name. Blizzards, bombs, stowaways and more combine to plunge the intertwined lives of an all-star cast into crisis, in a movie that sets the benchmark for every air-travel-trouble story to follow.
AIRSIDE follows the ordeals of Kevin Tyler, a guy whose life is falling apart, and the desperate choice he makes that throws everything around him into jeopardy. Kevin has spent months setting up a business deal, risking everything he has to push it through, but when it all collapses and he’s left high and dry, doomed to bankruptcy and an uncertain future. Bumped off the last flight home until the next departure the following morning, his luck seems spent – until he stumbles upon a bag of cash that could be the solution to all his woes. But the money is part of a conspiracy of blackmail and murder, and the people it belongs to want it back… And they’ll do anything to get it.
James Swallow is a New York Times, Sunday Times and Amazon #1 bestselling author of over fifty novels, and a BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter with over a million books in print worldwide. He is the creator of the acclaimed Marc Dane action thriller series, and has written for franchises such as Star Trek, Tom Clancy, 24, Marvel and several high-profile videogames. He lives and works in London.
Find him online at www.jswallow.com or on Twitter at @jmswallow.