Andrea’s Angle | “On a Wing and a Prayer” – Feel Good Story, Heavy-Handed Message
One of the main reasons I wanted to watch this film is I’ve always been a fan of Dennis Quaid. He generally has a good track record in films, and most of the films he’s been in have been engaging. After watching this film, Dennis Quaid gives his usual strong performance with a story that is engaging, especially with the various characters that we meet. The ending is particularly satisfactory. However, the story feels disjointed, especially in the first half of the movie, the message can be heavy-handed at times, and the story is predictable.
A Wing and a Prayer is a biographical survival film directed by Sean McNamara and written by Brian Egeston. The film, based on a true story, focuses on 56-year-old pharmacist Doug White (Dennis Quaid). On Easter 2009, he, his wife Terri (Heather Graham), and their daughters are returning to Louisiana after attending the funeral for White’s brother. Less than ten minutes into the flight, their pilot dies of a heart attack, leaving Doug to attempt to fly the plane. With the help of Fort Myers air traffic controllers, including Dan Favio (Rocky Myers) and his friend Kari (Jesse Metcalfe), a flight instructor, they teach Doug how to land the plane safely.
In this film, while the story takes time to build, once the movie reaches the crisis event, the film picks up pace quickly. The story focuses on the survival of the family, and in that, it is engrossing as air traffic controllers, Kari, and even a young aviation enthusiast track the progress of the flight and help Doug. The characters are engaging as they fight to survive. And in fact, the characters are the most engrossing part of the film. Doug White has questioned his faith, his daughters have their own struggles during the flight while Terri helps her husband and supports him. They are very engaging and sympathetic figures.
In this film, the performances are solid and help make the story more engaging. Dennis Quaid is believable as Doug White, and his portrayal is sympathetic and authentic. He is emotional and restrained in the role. The chemistry between him and Heather Graham is excellent. The pair feel like a married couple. The performance of Jesse Metcalfe as Kari is engaging. His backstory feels as impactful as the survival of Doug White and his family. Rocky Myers, as Dan, adds to the story and the drama.
One of the biggest issues is the predictability of the story. Not much in the film is surprising, and I never felt like the family would not survive. Everything is telegraphed ahead of time, and that does lessen both the impact of the story and the tension. In addition, at the beginning of the film, it switches from Doug to the various other individuals involved. This makes the movie disjointed, especially at the beginning. Most of the characters in the film also are well-developed, other than Doug White and his family.
The next issue is the message of the film. If you are Christian, you will appreciate the message of hope and belief. However, it is fairly heavy-handed, and it feels forced rather than allowing that message to happen naturally through the actions of Doug and his family. I think a more natural approach would have increased the complexity of the story and would have enhanced the narrative. Still, despite this, the ending is very satisfactory, and I love the wrap-up of the different individuals giving us details of their real lives.
If you like stories about faith and survival or you like Dennis Quaid, you likely will still enjoy this movie. The ending is hopeful and loving, all about letting go. The characters are interesting and engaging, with excellent performances by Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Jesse Metcalfe, and Rocky Myers. It is an enjoyable film that had room to be better.
Rating: 3 pilots out of 5.
Official Website: Watch On a Wing and a Prayer | Prime Video
On a Wing and a Prayer
In this extraordinary true story of faith and survival, ON A WING AND A PRAYER follows passenger Doug White’s (Dennis Quaid) harrowing journey to safely land a plane and save his entire family from insurmountable danger, after their pilot dies unexpectedly mid-flight.
ON A WING AND A PRAYER launches on Prime Video on April 7, 2023.