Movie Review: ‘Plane’

Review by James Lindorf

“Plane” is the third Hollywood action film by French Director Jean-François Richet. In America, Richet is best known for the remake of John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13” in 2005. “Plane” may not be a first-class action film. Still, with Gerard Butler leading a charismatic cast, it is an enjoyable ride soaring high above standard action fare. “Plane” is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Gerard Butler stars as the complex Captain Brodie Torrance. Brodie is a widower, a single father to a teenage daughter (Haleigh Hekking), and a disgraced pilot for the budget-focused airline Trailblazer. Flight 119 from Singapore to Tokyo is supposed to be his last flight before celebrating the New Year in Maui with his daughter and sister. Joining him on the crew is Dele (Yoson An), a talented young co-pilot and lead flight attendant Bonnie (Daniella Pineda). The nearly empty flight gets a couple of last-minute passengers in FBI Agent Knight and murder suspect Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter). That is just the first bit of unexpected trouble for the 6-hour flight. Looking to save money, Trailblazer sets a flight path through a violent storm that will lead to the crash landing of flight 119. While most people are unscathed thanks to some fancy flying, they find themselves on an unidentified island run by Filipino rebels. Whose leader, Junmar (Evan Dane Taylor), has the nasty habit of ransoming and killing hostages. Brodie will have no choice but to team up with Gaspare to rescue the passengers before it is too late.

With a generic name like “Plane,” you might be concerned that the rest of the film is just as devoid of creativity. However, “Plane” features multiple expertly choreographed, acted, and filmed action sequences. From the turbulent plane ride, the kidnapping, and the big showdown in the climax, Richet will ensure your eyes stay glued to the screen. The initial plane sequence may be the best plane in trouble sequence for blending reality and the fantastic. The realistic approach heightens the tension because you can easily place yourself in that situation. It is nice to see the actions and reactions of the passengers, the flight attendants, and the pilots because you rarely see all three get an appropriate amount of screen time. Once they hit the ground, the action isn’t unheard of, but it is highly improbable and mostly unmotivated.

While Brodie is dealing with everything on the ground, we look inside the Trailblazer headquarters, and they circle the wagons. Led by CEO Hampton (Paul Ben-Victor) and strategist Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn), the team prepares for all possible outcomes and how they can protect themselves from most of the fallout. In perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of the film, they rally a team of mercenaries to fly halfway around the world to rescue the crash survivors. While not believable, it does help even out the numbers to provide Brodie and the rest a fighting chance without going silly by having some rebels turn against their leader.

What keeps “Plane” from entering the top tier of action films like “Die Hard” or “First Blood” is the lack of character depth. While the actors are doing their best, the characters have the depth of a DIY Koi pond. There isn’t a single one that goes beyond one note. We are told they have complex backgrounds, but they are never addressed or inform their current decisions beyond the obvious. “Plane” is a perfect example of the kind of movie you will watch part or all of whenever you see it on, but will never seek out. “Plane” is a fun ride with no unnecessary plot delays getting you where you want to go. But it does so in an unremarkable fashion. It earns 3.5 out of 5 from me for its fantastic action scenes and charismatic performances.

Rating: R
Genre: Action, Mystery & Thriller
Director: Jean-François Richet
Writer: Charles Cumming, J.P. Davis
Release Date: January 13th
Runtime: 1h 47m

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