"Plane" stars Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, and Tony Goldwyn. Released on January 13, 2023, the film has a commercial pilot teaming up with a convicted fugitive to rescue his passengers from local militants.
The film was directed by Jean-François Richet, who also directed films such as "Inner City", "All About Love", "Assault on Precinct 13", and "The Emperor of Paris". We always have a scary feeling of being in danger while on a plane. While most of us have no problem flying in the sky with strangers, it's easy to admit that some of us have a deep fear of our plane crashing down in some capacity. If that's not enough, then try being held captive by a militant group after surviving the crash landing. That would definitely be enough to give up going anywhere on the plane for at least an eternity. That's how I would describe the concept of this latest action thriller starring everyone's favorite butt-kicking star, Gerard Butler. It's still evident that Butler is in the same league as Liam Neeson regarding their recent B-movie-level thrillers. Although unlike the latter, Butler has starred in several movies that were at least tolerable despite their flaws. This film looks to be no exception, with Butler teaming up with Mike Colter to save the day. So does it offer enough action and high stakes to satisfy the actor's fans? Let's board this plane and find out.
The story follows Brodie Torrance (Butler), a commercial pilot working on a regularly scheduled flight during New Year's Eve. During the flight, a storm causes critical damage to the plane, forcing Brodie to make an emergency landing on an island. Unfortunately, the island turns out to be Jolo, a remote area of the Philippines ruled by anti-government militias. The militias eventually find the passengers and hold them hostage, intending to secure large ransoms from their families. As a result, a rescue team formed by former Special Forces officer Scarsdale (Goldwyn) is sent to find and rescue the passengers. Meanwhile, Brodie joins forces with Louis Gaspare (Colter), an accused murderer Brodie was tasked with transporting, to save his passengers and escape the island.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you might notice that I have a complex relationship with Gerard Butler and his recent movies. I enjoyed watching some movies featuring him, like "Olympus Has Fallen" and "Copshop", but I struggled with the other ones that failed to reach past their average quality. Each has plenty of moments filled with entertaining thrills and a compelling sense of tension. However, when it comes to their narratives, they're no Oscar contenders, but they often succeed in giving the audience what they want: a piece of adrenaline-fueled escapism featuring Gerard Butler kicking ass.
Based on the marketing, "Plane" appears to be another addition to that category, which shouldn't come as a surprise. I mean, it's an action movie about Gerard Butler killing militias and flying a plane through a dangerous storm. What you see is what you'll get, and the film delivers on that without breaking a sweat. Like the other B-movie action thrillers, "Plane" knows what it needs to be to get audiences in their seats. It's a low-budget, old-fashioned thrill ride that cruises smoothly into "popcorn entertainment" territory. However, what makes this more tolerable than the other mediocre low-budget thrillers is the effort put into its standard concept regarding the action and direction. While it doesn't elevate its familiarity, it's more than enough for me to consider it another enjoyable experience that's worth a trip to the cineplex.
If you go into this movie expecting to have an award-worthy story amid its R-rated violence, I can easily say you'll be leaving the flight in a foul mood. As mentioned earlier, this is another film designed for audiences who want old-fashioned fun and thrills instead of the artsy ones with Oscar potential. If you're not part of that audience, you might want to check out "The Fabelmans" next door. I'm okay with movies like this as long as the execution of its plot is bearable enough for me to forgive its flaws and, more importantly, it offers a healthy amount of entertainment. Fortunately for me, "Plane" did just that, even though its story soars into similar territory more often than it should.
The same should go for the characters, including the main leads. Brodie Torrance is a pilot sworn to protect his passengers by whatever means necessary, making him a perfect candidate to fly a plane during New's Year Eve. He would later test his duty when the militias captured the passengers and his crew, including his co-pilot Samuel Dele (Yoson An). Then, you have Louis Gaspare, a prisoner accused of a crime he committed years ago. He then finds redemption in helping Brodie save the passengers. These characters offer plenty of insight about themselves to make me care for their survival, including Brodie's attempt to protect the guests and reunite with his daughter Daniela (Haleigh Hekking). Unfortunately, that only lasted for about halfway through. Regarding its screenplay by Charles Cumming (who came up with the idea) and J. P. Davis, the film struggles to provide the necessary depth to the characters beyond their traditional personalities to inject emotion into their stakes. However, the characters quickly compensate for this flaw with their attractive charisma and the cast involved.
Unsurprisingly, Gerard Butler is one of the most likable stars working in movies, especially in the action genre. Whether a film is good or bad, Butler always carries it forward with his charming appearance. His performance in "Plane" is no exception. Butler's magnetic turn as the commercial pilot makes a lot of things easy to sit through, even when the film hits turbulence from time to time. Mike Colter, best known for playing Luke Cage in the Marvel series and David Acosta in "Evil", also did a decent job with his role as Louis, and Yoson An as Samuel makes for a delightful side character for Butler to work with. Daniella Pineda was also respectable regarding her performance as Bonnie, the head flight attendant who's also the survivor of the plane crash.
Before watching "Plane", I had not watched any film helmed by Jean-François Richet. So it was interesting for me to see his direction for a thriller like this for the first time. Richet is no stranger to directing action thrillers, as he has done "Assault on Precinct 13" and "Blood Father" with Mel Gibson, so I had no doubt that his take on the concept would be quite a treat. After watching the film, I can say that it met my expectation. Richet has done solid work delivering the necessary tension during a life-threatening scenario that may hit closer to home for people with a phobia of flying in an airplane. The scene involving Brodie flying his plane through a storm was a pure adrenaline rush. He also handled the action sequences well without relying too much on choppy editing. More importantly, he maintains a realistic approach to these sequences instead of going overboard with far-fetched scenarios and bloody violence. It shows that you don't need an overblown budget and massive amounts of blood or gore to get the intensity out of its action.
Overall, "Plane" is another standard action thriller that cruises steadily into entertainment territory, even though its narrative doesn't make this wild trip an extraordinary experience. It has the usual ingredients needed to provide a heart-pounding and unapologetically tense ride for people wanting escapism for two hours. If fun and thrills are your things and you don't care much about the story, then you'll have no problem attending this flight with Gerard Butler. Unfortunately, there might not be much else for anyone else wanting something more out of its bare-bones plot. Its engaging cast, Richet's direction, and thrilling action are enough to avoid the dreaded "January Movie Curse". However, its formulaic storytelling and middling characters kept it from soaring above the clouds of averageness. It's a fun flight to attend, but it isn't an experience that'll remain in my brain for the rest of the year.
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