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February 28, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia

A Dark Reflection Film Still 1

This ropey based-on-a-true-story thriller sees investigative journalist Helen Eastman (Georgina Sutcliffe) take a downgrade from covering terrorism in the Middle East to writing local fluff stories for The Sussex Standard. Thanks to a tip-off from her air traffic controller boyfriend however, she quickly finds herself neck-deep in an international conspiracy involving toxic fumes on commercial flights and the airline executives who want to cover it up.

The plot suggests a tamer take on All the President’s Men (1976), but A Dark Reflection possesses little of that film’s verve or paranoia. Moments of subtlety are few and far between – this is the sort of movie where shady business deals take place in gloomy mansions with sinister henchmen lurking in the shadows – while the genre clichés fly thick and fast.

The script veers maddeningly from one plot point to the next, with major strands jumping forward with little explanation while others are developed only to lead nowhere. Based in part on director and co-screenwriter Tristan Loraine’s own history as a pilot, the film often bears the earnestness and wide-eyed conviction of a conspiracy theorist, and sceptical viewers might be more likely to roll their eyes than gasp at the apparently teeming corruption.

Much of this would be forgivable if the film carried with it a real sense of thrill, but there’s little to be found here. The “scary bits” are telegraphed early with some rather predictable music cues, while for most of the film the biggest threat facing Helen is simply that she might be told to go back to covering village fêtes. This utter absence of suspense is carried through to the limp ending, staged in broad daylight at a rather dull aviation conference, where everything is played out in stilted speeches about air filters.

If you’re not already kept up at night by the worry that there’s insufficient air filtration on modern aircraft, A Dark Reflection is likely to do little to convince you otherwise. The message failing to land might be forgivable however, if the film didn’t fail so badly to simply entertain. As it is, A Dark Reflection has less in common with the great cinematic thrillers than it does with the contents of an airport departure board.

A Dark Reflection is in UK cinemas from February 27th

Dominic Preston