Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Plane (2023)

I quite like Gerard Butler. He’s a likeable screen presence, he always convinces me that he could take on a horde of enemies, and he’s a fellow Scot. He doesn’t always pick the best films though, whatever the genre (although he is most often found in either romance movies or action flicks). Plane is a film I wasn’t looking forward to seeing. Nothing about the marketing grabbed me. Thankfully, it’s much better than the marketing makes out.

Butler plays pilot Brodie Torrance, due to fly a plane with roughly a dozen or so passengers on board. One of those passengers is a handcuffed prisoner (Louis Gaspare, played by Mike Colter). Flying above some stormy weather, the whole flight changes when the plane is struck by lightning, frying the electrics. Torrance and his co-pilot (Samuel Dele, played by Yoson An) try to do all they can, but the best they can do is try a controlled crash landing. It’s looking like a dive into the water for everyone, but then Torrance spots a small island. Once they have landed, Torrance plans to call for help. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realise that they are now in danger from island inhabitants, a number of separatist “soldiers” who will happily take people hostage and use them to make demands from governments around the world. Everyone is in danger, but Torrance might have a skilled ally in Gaspare. If he wants to risk removing the handcuffs.

Written by Charles Cumming (his first script) and J. P. Davis (who only has a few other writing credits to his name), Plane is an entertaining mix of different elements that work because of the time given to each. The initial crash takes up most of the first act (no spoiler - the tagline mentions it), then you get the survival drama element, and the action thriller, all leading to a thrilling finale that also keeps the plane as a central figure in the plot.

Director Jean-Fran├žois Richet has proven himself more than capable with this kind of thing before, I highly recommend most of his filmography, and he’s a great fit here. Everything is predictable enough, from the disaster movie moments to the big gunfight battles, but it’s all very satisfying and entertaining throughout, helped by the watchability of the leads.

Butler and Colter are both great in roles that play to their strengths, and they easily carry the movie between them, but An does fine with his fairly bland character, Evan Dane Taylor is an effectively menacing baddie, Daniella Pineda is the experienced stewardess trying to keep people calm, and Tony Goldwyn stealthily steals a few scenes, playing the man who swoops in amongst the airport staff to evaluate the situation and figure out the best way to locate and rescue the lost passengers and crew.

Are you going to feel like you’re missing out if you don’t see Plane? Not at all. It’s a fun film though, and it doesn’t try to be anything other than that. You might even say . . . it’s just plane entertaining, badump-tsshhhh.


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