The casting of seasoned action star Gerard Butler as a grizzled, well-intentioned commercial airline pilot with the capacity for badassery is definitely a step in the right direction. He plays Brodie Torrance, who makes an emergency landing in the Philippines after his plane sustains critical damage from a storm. The island he’s landed on is controlled by a dangerous armed militia who end up taking the passengers hostage, leaving Captain Torrance and convicted murderer Louis Gaspare (Luke Cage’s Mike Colter), who was being extradited on the doomed flight, to rescue them while also figuring out a way off the island.
Plane is as basic as its title, not absurd enough to capitalize on the fun factor, but exciting enough that I found myself frantically biting my nails during most of its many action sequences. In fact, Mike Colter has said that Plane was going to focus more on character development than straight action, which is partly true — there’s less of an emphasis on how to bridge the jam-packed, guns-blazing scenes of pure excitement, and more care put into the characters than one might expect. But generally, it still feels half-baked, like the characters are secondary to the end goal and eventual payoff. I’m fresh off of watching it, and I could not name any character aside from the lead — which I suppose is effective in and of itself.
Butler and Colter are at the very center of Plane, and if they’re not giving it their all, they’re at least trying their best. They make a compelling pair to follow through the jungle, even if it’s not quite the bromance I expected — they’re still loads of fun to hang out with.
While not the super-stylized heightened action flick I was expecting, it cannot be said that Plane drags, not even in the slightest. Its first third is a tense thriller that preys upon the fears that nearly every flyer has (even in the back of their mind) about something going horribly wrong on their routine flight, and from there it becomes an entirely different movie: a story of survival in unfamiliar territory, with two solid action stars at least attempting to ground it in reality.
Plane is now playing in theaters.