Flight Risks: 10 Great Action Scenes Set on a Plane

If bouncing around in a tin cylinder at 35,000 feet isn't suspenseful enough, how about adding flying fists and/or bullets to the mix? As Liam Neeson takes his Taken skills to the skies in this Friday’s thriller Non-Stop, we take a look at 10 of the best action scenes set in and around moving aircraft.

Air Force One

President Harrison Ford trades punches, kicks and bullets with several Russian terrorists at various altitudes in this 1997 hit. For our money, the best fight involves a hapless thug getting duped by the prez with the help of a chair. (“Get off my plane!” is a close second.)


Passenger 57

“Always bet on black!” So much quotable cheesy goodness from this 1992 (very) guilty pleasure starring Wesley Snipes as an airline security expert. The most ridiculous thing about this fight is Snipes' shirt. It’s like he’s wearing Nav’i skin.


Executive Decision

The most unlikely SEAL team in the history of ever, led by Steven Segal, must use a Stealth Bomber’s unique docking system to board Oceanic Flight 343 – mid-flight! While no real punches are traded, you could make an argument that Segal gets his ass kicked by physics.



Arguably the best thing about Roger Moore’s fourth outing as 007 is the film’s harrowing skydive fight. The setup: before Bond gets blasted into space, he must first battle metal-mouthed thug Jaws in freefall. Their awkward fisticuffs first start on a plane, and only get better from there.



You know, the frequency in which Bond grapples with bad guys aboard flying gas cans suggests he either has a death wish or just really likes his aerial violence. Either way, 007’s 1964 adventure treats us to an important safety message: Don't shoot guns into pressurized fuselages.



This 1996 sorta-good-but-not-really action film finds Arnold Schwarzenegger betrayed by his boss and friend and blah-blah-action-movie stuff while in flight. All you need to know is, after the gunfighting stops, Ahnuld punches one of the plane’s engines with a chair and then – you know.


Superman Returns

While audiences were less than enthralled by Bryan Singer’s 2006 reboot-quel, they seemed to be big fans of the film’s signature set piece: Superman vs. an out-of-control airplane. And gravity. We know that technically this doesn’t constitute the normal definition of a fight. But when your action scene is this cool, you gotta make an exception.



Oh James… you really need to see somebody about this plane thing. Most heroes throw down with baddies while they are already on the plane. But not 007. No, he has to first leap off a cliff (via motorbike) and dive after the plane. Only then, with the help of movie physics, can our favorite spy climb aboard, knock out the pilot and commandeer the plane to safety.



Ethan Hunt doesn’t need to beat up guys when he has the cargo bay doors of an IMF plane at his disposal. It’s a battle of wits and intense stares as Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible’s the s@#! out of his latest villain, played by the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. This scene from the 2006 film proves that not all action scenes require stunts. Just really damn good actors. (And intense stares. Did we mention the stares?)


Die Hard 2

The first sequel to John McClane: terrorist Hunter spoils us with two excessively everything fights set on and inside a variety of aircraft. Fight scene one, set aboard a downed cargo plane, shows what happens when Bruce Willis’ supercop brings a gun to a grenade fight.

The second? The wing of a moving 747 serves as an MMA ring for McClane to murder-death-kill the main baddie and his duplicitous number two. The former gets killed with a jet engine! Wish we could quit you, 1990s action movies…


What's your favorite shake-up on a plane?

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