Simple action movies, executed well, have become a rarity these days outside of the superhero genre. “Plane” starring Gerard Butler is one such rare find.
The film focuses on Captain Brodie Torrence (Butler), who is forced to fly into dangerous weather en route to Tokyo with his copilot, Samuel Dele (Yoson An). The plane gets struck by lightning, killing their navigation tools and forcing them to make an unplanned landing on a dangerous island in the Philippines controlled by rebels.
Another wildcard on the plane is a fugitive from justice being extradited for murder named Louis Gaspare (Michael Colter). Gaspare is portrayed as a dangerous man to be wary of, but his military training comes in real handy when the rebels on the island are revealed to be ruthless warlords who are known to capture outsiders and extort them for hostage money. When Torrence and Gaspare scout one of their buildings, they quickly find out that they are also not above executing hostages, something a few of Torrence’s passengers find out the hard way in the film. Led by a man named Datu Junmar (Rvan Dane Taylor), the rebels serve as the primary threat for most of the movie.
Butler, Colter and An have the strongest performances because the movie relies on them so much. Torrence is the epitome of what you want out of your captain in a crisis situation, as he rolls with the punches of the situation with grace and doesn’t hesitate to put himself in danger for the sake of his crew — he’s fully prepared to give his life if it can ensure their safety.
Dele is a reliable copilot who feels like a vice captain, providing critical support to Torrence, especially on the logistical sides of managing the plane. Daniella Pineda plays Bonnie, the head flight attendant, who manages the surviving passengers on Torrence’s behalf, though the film doesn’t give her much to do as most of her important work happens off-screen while the action scenes are happening. But they are both outshined by Gaspare, who serves as an unstoppable force and brother in arms to Torrence, at times taking the tactical lead as they both work to free the passengers from Junmar’s grasp.
There is a good amount of ridiculous action in this that stretched my suspension of disbelief, but not to its breaking point. The film also has some really great stealth sections where Torrence and Gaspare are behind enemy lines that builds tension wonderfully, and the trinity of Torrence, Gaspare and Dele makes the film work from a character perspective.
With that being said, while “Plane” certainly checks all the boxes a competent action film should, it also doesn’t push the envelope in any way. It’s a very good standard action film, but I don’t think it’ll make many people’s “best of the year” lists.
Regardless, if you’re looking for a great popcorn flick, this one might be for you.
“Plane” (2023) gets an 8/10
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