Plane Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Can an action movie, released in January/February that should have been in cinemas two & a half decades ago, still entertain? Let’s find out!
Genre: Action / Thriller
Director: Jean-François Richet
Cast: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Evan Dane Taylor, Tony Goldwyn, Daniella Pineda, Remie Adeleke, Haleigh Hekking & Paul Ben-Victor.
Run Time: 108 min.
US Release: 13 January 2023
UK Release: 27 January 2023
German Release: 02 February 2023
When it comes to Gerard Butler, I am always cautiously walking into a screening room because you never know what you are going to obtain! With a title like Plane, I did not expect to see anything that would swoop me off my feet, yet found myself surprisingly entertained. Don’t get me wrong, this is no groundbreaking action feature, What it is, is a homage to old school, cheesy, 90s action films, I grew up with. Surprisingly this seems to be the genre in which Butler shines the most, giving a solid performance. So put your seats in an upright position and enjoy my review!
Captain Brodie Torrance finds himself in a war zone, after having had to save his passengers from a lightning strike that fried the commercial aircraft's electronics, by crash landing on a remote island in the Philippines.
Written by Charles Cumming together with J.P. Davis, the script is relatively simple, even generic. Having said that, one needs to understand that this is a 90s-style action flick, which to my surprise was handled very well, without overblowing the premise with too many subplots, following an easy-to-understand structure. In a nutshell, the story can be described as Air Force One, meets Con Air, meets Rambo 4 and it works really well!
If you have seen the trailer you know exactly what you are in for, no surprises at all. The narrative is as formulaic as it comes, forcing a morally driven, heroic-type character, to pair up with a shady anti-hero, to save a bunch of people from a group of villains. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it keeps the screenplay cleanly neat, without tangling itself up in a complicated construct.
The first act takes its time to introduce the core cast, mainly Butler’s character and the flight crew. The audience gets familiar with the surroundings of the aircraft, before the first action segment kicks in twenty-five minutes into the runtime, by setting up an intense, emergency landing after the airplane is hit by a strong storm. From there on, the movie unfolds at a steady, reliable pace.
The dialogue is kept simple, plus straight to the point without straying away from the narrative. It contains some profanities but also some accurate conversations about aviation.
Issues arise with how characters are written, as well as depicted by some of the actors. Generally speaking, every main person in this action feature has a predefined role. That said, the passengers are a collection of sheep, meant to be taken hostage, for the two heroes to rescue.
I have a love-hate relationship with Gerard Butler, simply because he picks his roles in the most random format. You never know what you obtain with the guy. That said, he proves to be exceptionally well, in these 90s action thriller throwbacks. Here, he gives an incredibly detailed rendition, as Brodie Torrance, captain of the commercial airliner! From the way he talks to his co-workers, to the checklist he goes through before take-off, Butler is believable as a commercial pilot! He also gives a credible performance as the leader of the crash-landed group, with a fantastic physical performance.
Mike Colter, who we all know by now from the Netflix-Marvel series Luke Cage, plays the dubious Louis Gaspare. Gaspare is a convicted criminal, accompanied on the flight by a federal agent. His background comes in handy when the crashed party is attacked by a group of militia-like locals. Colter is believable in his role, thanks to his big physicality, and his cool performance, which shows him to remain calm in extreme situations.
Side characters that stand out are Samuel Dele, Torrance’s co-pilot played by Yoson An. Dele is resourceful, as well as smart, proving to be handy with electronics. Then there is Daniella Pineda, who portrays head flight attendant Bonnie, also giving a believable rendition of her role.
The terrorist group, led by Evan Dane Taylor as Datu Junmar, is just as generic as the group of passengers. Evan Dane Taylor can be identified as the lead of the terrorist organisation, simply because the plot focuses on him. Unfortunately, he goes easily under, between the other villains, who all look the same! Wearing equal pieces of clothing, the same styled beards, even the same long hairstyles. There is nothing that makes them stand out from one another and honestly, they don’t feel so threatening!
Cinematographically, Plane is a pretty standard action movie, though most of it was filmed with hand-held cameras. The sequences inside the aircraft are well rendered, nevertheless, at times the imagery can get too shaky to enjoy. In combination with unnecessary fast zoom-ins, especially during battles against the terrorist militia, events become difficult to follow on screen. However, a lot of the fight segments are well framed, plus I appreciated the two-minute-long, one-shot combat scene.
While wounds, scrapes, and other injuries look practical, other action segments that include the airplane are rendered through computer imagery. The problem here is with the CGI, which looks cheap, thus sticking out like a sore thumb.
Verdict: Director Jean-François Richet is no stranger to action, specifically old-school compacted, old-school one. He directed the underrated Blood Father, with Mel Gibson, back in 2016, as well as the Assault on Precinct 13 remake. It contains an entertainingly predictable script, simple dialogue lines, an intense flying sequence, just like a two-minute single-shot brawling scene. The cinematography includes blunders, though is passable as a whole. The effects are largely digital, yet not always convincing. The core cast, however, give credible renditions of their personas and solid physical performances. In the end, it is the allocation of some of the side characters, the schlocky acting, and a couple of shaky cam moments that shaved off around one-and-a-half points from the final score. As it stands, Plane is a solid throwback to 90s action flicks, floating on the upper half of mediocre premises. It is worth a 6.0 out of 10.
Maybe not worth spending cinema money on, but worth watching if you are a 90s cinema kid like me! So what did you think of Butler’s latest flick? Let me know in the comments!