MH370: The Plane That Disappeared Review – suspenseful, intriguing, and ultimately heartbreaking

By Marc Miller
Published: March 8, 2023 (Last updated: January 22, 2024)
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The Netflix docuseries MH370: The Plane That Disappeared is a suspenseful, intriguing, and ultimately heartbreaking look at one of the most notorious tragedies in world history.

We reviewed the Netflix documentary series MH370: The Plane That Disappeared. The documentary series was released on March 8, 2023. 

If you are a conspiracy theorist fan like many, the story of MH370 is the most notorious (I refuse to write “greatest”) debated mystery of the 21st century. The Netflix docuseries MH370: The Plane That Disappeared has three supported scenarios.

Remarkably, experts and published writers’ attitudes towards the most prominent theory lean towards the wildest ones. While tragic, these series tend to feed one’s appetite for the macabre, an insatiable appetite for crime junkie nerds like myself to solve puzzles. This streaming docuseries scratches that itch while not offering any new information.

Not that it matters. The story sells itself.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared Review and Plot Summary

In 2014, Flight MH370 disappeared over a grey area between Malaysia and Vietnamese airspace. There were 239 people on board from all walks of life, ethnicities, and nationalities. Since those famous last words from the pilot, “All right, good night,” came back clearly to the air tower, the exact location of everyone on board has remained a mystery.

What happened to it, and where did it go? It’s an event that is still shocking to this day. How could a redeye taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing just disappear without a trace? How come the airlines do not leave any clues of even the path it took?

That’s what director Louise Malkinson tries to piece together. There are three prevalent theories, and while I wish they would take mine of stopping looking down and instead looking up in the sky because the plane is probably floating past Saturn by now, no one has been able to locate it. The search cost over 200 million dollars and lasted over three years, covering over 40,000 square miles of ocean. Searching was finally suspended in January 2017, after its 1046th day.

The search for MH370 was one of the largest surface and underwater searches in aviation history and involved Australia, Malaysia, and China. The massive operation covered 120,000 sq km (46,332 sq miles) at an estimated cost of about $200m (£120m; €133m). After nearly nine years, the three most popular theories are — (1) the pilot chose to commit suicide in the Southern Indian ocean, (2) the plane was hijacked, hacked, and moved into Russian airspace, and (3) the plane blew up over the South China Sea.

Malkinson’s docuseries adds a human element to the events by interviewing dozens of family members of the crew and passengers. Many are still grieving, understandably and justifiably, to this day. You’ll hear the words from Intan Othman, a wife of a cabin crew member. Danica Weeks has two young sons, whose husband Paul was about to start a new job in China. And, of course, the tragic story of Ghyslain Wattrelos, a Frenchman who lost his wife, son, and daughter in the crash, who had to tell his only child left at college, over the phone, what had happened, only to hear his son’s wails and screams. Also, you hear from the men from the airline and the Malaysian government, who dragged their feet and offered no answers.

While you are privy to the human element, this balances the show since you are handed over and cycled through a band of citizen detective investigators trying to solve the case. The most popular is an aviation journalist Jeff Wise, who has the wildest theory. Florence de Changy offers compelling ideas that feed into the conspiracy narrative. While entertaining, you cannot help if these people use this tragedy to sell books and get on television, thus providing grieving families with thoughts of denial and a vast ocean between them and closure. The producers use an effective tool to keep viewers interested for over three hours. The docuseries keeps the new and helpful trend of using a visual and variable timeline to help guide the viewer through a labyrinth of timelines.

Is MH370: The Plane That Disappeared on Netflix worth watching?

Netflix’s MH370: The Plane That Disappeared is a suspenseful, intriguing, and ultimately heartbreaking look at a tragedy that has never been solved.

One of the better genre efforts from the streaming giant, not just in quality, which it does so well, but from the sheer appeal of the story.

What did you think of the Netflix documentary series MH370: The Plane That Disappeared? Comment below.

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