Imagine you’re on a plane with your family. It’s Easter and you’re headed home after attending your brother’s funeral. Suddenly, the pilot goes unconscious and your left to fly the plane—something you’ve not done—and land safely.
In 2009, that was the situation facing Doug White, who’d only previously taken one exploratory flight on a Cesna. This was a different kind of plane entirely, and the stakes were much bigger. Yet, thanks to his actions, the support he received from those on the ground and a dose of prayer, White was able to land safely.
It’s been more than a decade since the flight, but the new Prime Video film, On A Wing and A Prayer, chronicles that harrowing journey. It releases Friday, just in time for Easter weekend, a fitting release given when the flight itself took place.
In the film, Dennis Quaid plays Doug White. We open with Doug and his brother, Jeff (Brett Rice), taking that flying lesson. Doug can’t stick the landing. But, after getting on the ground, the brothers head to a barbecue competition. Later, when Doug is home, he gets the call that Jeff passed suddenly.
Doug and his wife, Terri (Heather Graham), head to the funeral with their two daughters. Mired in grief, the family begins its trip home. When the pilot dies, Doug finds himself facing an even more difficult landing. He soon calls for help.
Eventually, Doug connects with a flight instructor in Connecticut, Kari (Jesse Metcalf), who is dealing with a trauma of his own. His own family didn’t survive a plane crash, and now he has to try and talk a novice through landing a plane he’s never flown to avoid a similar tragedy.
If you remember the true events, or have read up about it, you know how it ends. Doug and Terri were religious people who, in large part, leaned of faith before, during and after the event. This tale of faith and survival is ideally timed for Easter weekend.
The performances are OK, and the script wanders a bit. The film is just 102 minutes but sometimes feels slowly paced. The true story is amazing but the way this re-telling is crafted feels dry and stiff at times. It was originally crafted as a theatrical release, but probably makes more sense as a Prime Video original.
For those looking for a bit of faith-based inspiration this week, A Wing and A Prayer will hit the right notes. It’s a sturdy if unspectacular true-life tale.
A Wing and A Prayer streams on Prime Video beginning Friday, April 7.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
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