google playGoogle
app storeiOS
settings icon
profile icon

Runway 34 review: Ajay Devgn's Sully act proves third time's the charm

Ajay Devgn soars on the directorial front. But Runway 34, is more technical in nature. Many people who haven't seen international aviation thrillers may be surprised by the plot, which is unoriginal but adapts well from page to screen.

  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

Last Updated: 03.12 AM, Apr 29, 2022

Runway 34 review: Ajay Devgn's Sully act proves third time's the charm

Runway 34 is based on true events and follows Captain Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn), an experienced pilot whose aircraft takes a strange turn after taking off from an international destination.


When we think of aviation thrillers, the last one to come to one's mind is Clint Eastwood-directed Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, featuring the legendary actor Tom Hanks. In the film, after his jet is damaged by birds, Captain Chesley (Hanks), a commercial pilot, makes an emergency landing on the Hudson River. A probe into the subject, on the other hand, maybe deadly to his career.

When Runway 34 was announced, it gave an instant sense of déjà vu for Sully as well as what one could expect from the film. Interestingly, Ajay Devgn offered the same as a director as well as an actor. This film marks his third directorial effort, and I would say it's the third time the charm, indeed.

The actor as a filmmaker is amazing with his camera work, and he showed the same with Runway 34 too. When it comes to technical aspects, the film excels stupendously as it leaves one on the edge of their seat, especially in the first half.

The film's surprise elements only lie in the fact that there's no surprise in the story. Stories of Sully or Runway 34 give a lot of meaning to the famous dialogue from The Dark Knight, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

Here, Sully or Vikram Khanna become instant heroes for their presence of mind and "heroic" act of emergency landing, keeping the passengers safe. But in no time, they are questioned about their job as a pilot and whether they would have just landed safely despite the given circumstances.

However, just like Sully, even Runway 34 is based on a true story which took place in 2015. For the uninitiated, because of the haze that had developed following heavy rain the night before, Jet Airways flight 9W 555 landed from Doha, Qatar's capital, over Kochi at 5:45 am with insufficient visibility to land. The pilot chose to divert to Trivandrum after nearly half an hour of holding over Kochi. When it arrived in Trivandrum, visibility was also lower than what was needed for a visual landing.

Devgn stuck to the plot entirely, which made for the first half of the film. The second half takes a turn towards courtroom drama, and here comes Amitabh Bachchan as investigating officer Narayan Vedant. The legendary actor is totally in his element as a man speaking in "shudh" Hindi during interrogation.

However, the impact that the first half has created comes jarringly down in the rest of the film, despite having court sequences, which are something I look forward to while watching films. Although the film has roped in Bachchan for the role, the dialoguebaazi gets lost in translation, and it seems like a few moments are lost just being stuck in a loop.

Apart from the discussion about the flight landing in bad weather, one of the other things that are brought up constantly is the name of Rakul Preet Singh's character, Tanya Albuquerque. The last name of the character is after a city in the US and will, of course, freak one out in the first instance. However, it's mentioned so many times with different pronunciations that it becomes a topic of discussion.

Runway 34 has more flaws when it comes to the storyline written by Sandeep Kewlani and Aamil Keeyan Khan. It lacks the charm that brings out the wow factor. However, it's indeed the best work of Devgn as a director, for sure. The actor has finally shown his growth as a filmmaker since he went behind the lens for the last 14 years.

The investigation part is similar to that of Sully and won't surprise you if you have watched the 2016 film. But the technical aspects of Runway 34 are there to say, and one has to give credit to cinematographer Aseem Bajaj for his incredible work. Dharmendra Sharma's editing does a great job of making the film linear throughout and not messing it up in any way.

When it comes to performances, Devgn is at his usual best and is fun to watch, showing how to balance professionalism and arrogance like a pro.

Similarly, it comes as no surprise to Bachchan too. The actor has played a lawyer or a cop on the big screen multiple times and lights up the screen the moment he makes a grand entry in a suited-up look.

Whereas Rakul Preet Singh brings emotional depth and performs well as the First Officer. It's something first for the actor on screen, and she excels in what's written for her.

The other supporting cast, namely Boman Irani, Akanksha Singh, and Angira Dhar, make for decent catalysts in the film.

Runway 34 does make for a good one-time watch, especially for its first half. But a film is incomplete without its latter part, and this one's high on drama but low on charm.


Runway 34 is Ajay Devgn's best work as a director, and it's more on the technical side. The story might come as a surprise to many who haven't watched several international films based on aviation thrillers. But the story has nothing new to offer but translates well from paper to screen.