“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I like to think of myself as someone who appreciates all facets of cinema. From the arthouse like Roma and You Were Never Really Here to the more accessible, blockbuster fare like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water and everything in between. While I’m sure he’s capable of more dramatic performances, Gerard Butler has filled what I believe to be a much needed role as the action hero of our age. In the 80’s it was the time of cheesy action flicks starring the legends of their day, Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Gibson, Chan and so many others.
These days it feels like the concept of masculinity is a notion to be frowned upon. A character seeking revenge for the murder of his family, a lone veteran now drifter battling corrupt law enforcement as well as PTSD are story lines that don’t seem as welcome as they once were. I realize the cultural climate of our time is much different but to see any harm in a genre where it’s just about the thrill of bad guys v good guys is absolutely silly to me. It’s actors like Butler that are keeping this beloved part of the genre alive and well. Insert Plane, possibly the most generic, uninspired movie title ever.
Plane is a B-movie actioner about the mundane becoming anything but. As the ordinary flight plan of airliner Captain Brodie Torrance encounters a massive storm he is forced to live through every pilot’s worst nightmare and exclaim over the radio, “Mayday.” As he and his co-pilot stare down a vast, unforgiving ocean beneath them they brace for impact when suddenly a mysterious island comes into view. Dry land is better than being adrift so they make a course correction and crash-land.
As they survey the damage and realize the likelihood of rescue is next to zero, Captain Brodie makes the decision to trek into the unknown jungle surrounding this newly stranded group of crew and passengers, including one unexpected guest in the form of a criminal being transferred for prosecution. Accused of murder but with a military past Captain Brodie sees the potential of this accused criminal’s help in getting them rescued. As they quickly discover though, the jungle is not to be feared but rather the people that dwell within it.
I first saw evidence of this movie in the form of an oversized cardboard cutout in the middle of my local theater. With a title like Plane, the only thing I wondered was how this obviously straight to dvd movie somehow slipped through the cracks and received a theatrical release. Even as a January release, this one seemed out of place. Needless to say my expectations were as low as it gets. I braced for the worst and what happened isn’t a miracle by any account, but it’s arguably a drastic upgrade from what I was waiting to suffer through. It is that throw-away 80’s style action flick to kill an afternoon. Gerard Butler and Mike Colter band together to kick ass and shoot up some faceless henchmen hellbent on their demise. It is as straightforward as that and why it works is the simple fact that it never tries to be anything more than advertised. What you see is what you get.
You could pick apart this movie with little effort. It’s an easy target. But to understand its purpose as a simple escape is to appreciate it without necessarily having to declare your love or hatred for it. I’m not saying this movie is anything significant, it’s not. But if you like Butler, Colter and mindless, R rated violence and action, Plane is more than sufficient. And that’s what the entirety of this endeavor is, sufficient. It’s perfectly serviceable as an action movie. Nothing more.
I say it’s better than a straight to dvd movie but that isn’t saying much. As fun and throwaway as Plane is, you’ll forget it by the time you reach the parking lot. Even as a subgenre of its own, the schlocky action flick featuring machismo with firearms, Plane is nothing special. It fits squarely in a place of, if you have to kill two hours and nothing else is on. Gerard Butler is the same exact character you’ve seen him play a dozen plus times. And while he does it well, it’s clearly nothing new. It’s been done before and with better execution. It’s not awful, it’s not great. It is as middle of the road as a theatrical release can be. January is the perfect month for Plane.
For the mindless, theatrical visit, Plane is the choice to choose this weekend. Unless you’re playing catch up with Avatar or M3GAN, give this one a shot. Just know what you’re getting into and you’ll be fine. If anything, this will hold me over until the next installment of the Fallen franchise that has been confirmed to be well on its way.
Rated R For: violence and language
Runtime: 107 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Thriller
Starring: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Daniella Pineda, Tony Goldwyn
Directed By: Jean-François Richet
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 6/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 7/ Visuals: 8
OVERALL: 7.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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