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'Plane' review: Gerard Butler's sturdy action vehicle takes flight

Courtesy of Lionsgate


A film destined to become one of TNT’s greatest hits, the Gerard Butler led action vehicle aptly named “Plane,” isn’t as generic or outlandish as the title may suggest. It’s actually a sturdy, taunt, and crafty little thriller that knows exactly where to steer, er, land. The simplistic premise sits somewhere in the realm of “No Escape” meets “Air Force One” with a game Butler (alongside Mike Colter) who doesn't oversell the material. There’s plenty of loose ends and unanswered questions, but questioning the logic or trying to make sense of the situation will prove futile. Turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. 

Butler, headlining another entry in a long list of his latest B-movie action pictures, stars as Brodie Torrance, a pilot trying to make it home and see his daughter for New Years. First, he’ll have to captain a leg from Singapore to Tokyo with a skeleton crew and 14 passengers onboard, one of them a prisoner named Louis Gaspare (Colter) who’s being extradited on a murder charge. But the plane goes down during a treacherours storm, landing in the middle of a desolate island populated with armed guerilla soldiers looking to leverage the stranded passengers as hostages. 

Setting aside their obvious differences, Brodie and Louis team up and venture into the jungle, which of course leads to an army of bad guys who will kill anything that moves. Meanwhile, back at the airline headquarters, the CEO and a crisis management rep (Tony Goldwyn, lending his credibility as always) are figuring out ways to extract and save the stranded patrons. It may or may not involve sending in a crew of mercenaries because local government officials won’t get involved. You know, action movie stuff. 

But there’s an appreciation for how “Plane” treats itself and director Jean Francois Richet, working with a script by Charles Cumming and J.P. Davis, keeps the movie grounded and authentic. You believe Brodie and Louis could stand toe-to-toe with these baddies because of their military and criminal background. And you also root for them every step of the way, which is the key ingredient for any low budget action film of this caliber. Don’t go looking for details that aren’t there (the charges against Louis are never revealed nor how Brodie’s wife passed away three years prior). “Plane” doesn’t have time for that: it wants brawls, suspense and to offer an escape on the big screen. 

Or on late night cable where your dad will be raving about it for weeks. 

Grade: B 

PLANE is now playing in theaters. 


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