‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ Review: Faith as Flight Insurance

Doug White (Dennis Quaid) is a man whose happiness stems from deep roots. He had a steady Christian faith. He has a warm and loving partnership with his wife, Terri (Heather Graham), and together, they are the proud parents of two teenage daughters. But when Doug’s beloved brother suddenly dies, Doug’s faith in a higher power is shaken. And his spiritual crisis got worse when Doug chartered a small plane back from his brother’s funeral.

The action drama “On a Wing and a Prayer” is based on the true story of the ordeal a white family faced when they took to the air in 2009. Their pilot suddenly died of a heart attack in the cockpit. Inexperienced Doug to guide the plane to a safe landing. The film follows Doug and his family as they work and pray to defy the odds stacked against their survival, with the remote assistance of air traffic controllers and flight instructors.

Director Sean McNamara includes plenty of computer-generated action, with the plane hurtling through storm clouds, and swerving sharply away from the ground. The images portray a weightless crisis, and the film’s emotional narrative feels insincere as well, with fate’s balance seemingly swaying at the timely placement of a prayer. Doug and his family call their faith a kind of invisible parachute, a deus ex machina that can always save them from harm. It is a cynical view of faith, one that strips away the mystery and terror of life’s unexpected doom, and instead frames survival as a matter of calling into a true belief system.

In Wings and Prayers
PG rated. Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

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