The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story

This terse, exciting, complex TV movie dramatizes the events leading up to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 people on the ground. Producer-director Leslie Woodhead has made The Tragedy of Flight 103 a film that is mercifully free of the “balance” that reduces most such exposés to bland everybody-has-their-reasons bores. Woodhead presents the airline as more concerned with profits than with safety, firing a loyal employee played by Peter Boyle (Joe) when he complains about cost cuts in the training of security personnel. The movie suggests that a terrorist was able to plant a bomb on the plane at least in part because of Pan Am’s malfunctioning security equipment, poorly trained staff, and obsession with eluding Federal Aviation Administration fines for safety oversights. To be sure, The Tragedy of Flight 103 isn’t perfect; it continues television’s demonization of Palestinians (try to find one here who’s not a terrorist and/or a religious zealot). But, with its rare candor about what goes on behind the scenes every time you or I step onto a plane, this movie is fascinating and disturbing. A-

The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story
  • TV Show