NOW IN THEATERS! The word I used for Avatar: The Way of Water is the same word I’ll use for director Jean-François Richet’s Plane. That word is “refreshing.” This new style of storytelling is not working. What’s refreshing is the return to the classic action thriller of the 1980s and 90s. Just give me a fun roller-coaster ride with none of this “made for modern audiences” nonsense. Do that, and I’ll freely hand over my money and see your film. Everything you need to know about this film is in the trailer. It’s highly predictable and improbable but refreshing all the same.
Gerard Butler plays low-tier airline pilot Brodie Torrance. He has one last flight to run before he can spend New Year’s Eve with his daughter, Carrie (Heather Seiffert). With a storm brewing over the Philippines, Brodie is advised by the airline to fly his plane over the storm instead of around it. Bad advice, as his plane is hit by lightning, rendering all instruments and communications useless.
Brodie and co-pilot Dele (Yoson Au) are forced to make an emergency landing on a deserted road just south of the Philippines. Now stranded in the jungle, the plane’s passengers, including suspected murderer Louis (Mike Colter), must fend for themselves. Brodie and Louis must also outsmart an army of Philippine separatists, who take the passengers hostage.
Here’s the crazy part about Plane. Back home, the corporate suits at Trailblazer Air are frantically trying to cover their a***s over the missing plane. The CEO calls in troubleshooter Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn) to handle not only the lousy press coming their way but to hire a band of mercenaries to extract the crew and passengers. From here, there’s a lot of killing, hunting, punching, shooting, and even an execution or two.
“Brodie and Louis must also outsmart an army of Philippine separatists, who take the passengers hostage.”
Damn, if this is not fun. Every segment is a “how am I going to get out of this one” moment, from not crashing a plane to rescuing passengers locked up in cages. Street smarts (more jungle smarts) and a lot of luck are on tap. What the studios stopped seeing in Gerard Butler only serves as a big win for independent film.
Then there are all the improbable coincidences present in the script by Charles C*****g and J.P. Davis. Don’t question it. Accept Plane as it is. Who knew Brodie’s service with the British Royal Air Force would come in handy for flying a beat-up plane and weapons training? Of course, Brodie knows how to hot wire a broken phone bank. What about a suspected murderer who spent several tours with the Foreign Legion? Now add a crew of mercenaries with over-the-top firearms. We all know how this ends, right? No surprises.
Refreshing! I gladly welcome a mid-budget action film from the stalwart Lionsgate with open arms. The majority of this film is practical, with CG used only for the plane in the air and copious amounts of blood splatter. Butler comes with a particular set of skills, a moral compass, and a willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Colter is the killing machine who’s misunderstood with a heart of gold.
In the end, Plane is a high-adventure thrill ride. Unplug your brain. Suspend disbelief and strap in. No lectures, moralizing, or virtue signaling. Just an everyman trying to get home to his family. It may also serve as motivation to take a few wilderness survival courses.
"…unplug your brain. Suspend disbelief and strap in."