PLANE l Cineplex Films/Lionsgate | January 13, 2023
Starring: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Tony Goldwyn
Directed By: Jean-François Richet
Pilot Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler) saves his passengers from a lightning strike by making a risky landing on a war-torn island — only to find that surviving the landing was just the beginning. When most of the passengers are taken hostage by dangerous rebels, the only person Torrance can count on for help is Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), an accused murderer who was being transported by the FBI. In order to rescue the passengers, Torrance will need Gaspare’s help, and will learn there’s more to Gaspare than meets the eye.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Plane is an exciting watch that has the popcorn thrills audiences will be looking for in such an action film, proving that Gerard Butler is a reliable action star who never misses the mark.
When it comes to B grade action films, you know exactly what you are getting when you sit down in the theatre and the lights turn off. You are going to have a straightforward plot with good action, some extreme violence, and hopefully enough entertainment to sustain the run time. The success of the film hinges on the star leading the film, and in today’s world, there are a handful of stars we always see leading these films. Liam Neeson may be the most popular actor to cast in these roles, but given the option between a Neeson led action film or a Gerard Butler led action film, I will pick the Butler film every single time.
Unlike Neeson who always plays the same character facing similar circumstances in almost every action film he stars in, resulting in them all blurring together in the audience’s mind, Butler’s films feature distinct characters and plotlines. Yes, they all feature Butler as the hero of the film, but there are notable differences between his films. In this film, Butler stars as Brodie Torrance, the captain of a commercial airplane that crash lands after being struck by lightning in a storm. The island they crash land on is controlled by a militia group, who kidnap the majority of the passengers and crew, forcing Brodie to work together with criminal Louis Gaspare who was on the flight being extradited on murder charges to save the passengers and crew.
Writers Charles Cumming and J.P. Daivs have created a straightforward action thriller, and while it is predictable to a tee, it never fails to entertain or hold your attention. The story is never short on thrills, whether it be the storm sequence that downs the plane, or the action sequences on the island as Brodie and Louis square off against the local militia. While some films in this genre fall victim to having an action sequence just for the sake of having action explode across the screen, every sequence in this film helps move the story towards its conclusion and grounds the action in reality as much as possible. Aided with practical effects and visual effects that don’t feature overabundant CGI, the film puts you right alongside Butler in the thick of the action, resulting in a truly fun watch.
The film succeeds because of Butler’s performance as Brodie. Butler has the natural screen presence and charisma to become the action hero required by the story, but he makes Brodie feel closer to your average person than the unbelievable trained killers that normally populate in this genre. Anchoring his performance is Brodie’s sense of duty to protect his passengers as the captain of the airplane. There is a sense of mortality and vulnerability to Brodie that makes him relatable for the audience, but will also have you questioning whether he will survive the film. Butler excels in the action sequences, but he is not the perfect action hero we see in so many films, but a more messy action star capturing the adrenaline fueling this more average man to save his passengers and see his daughter again.
Opposite Butler as Louis is Mike Colter, and Colter is a great fit for the role. Colter has the menacing stature to become this dangerous criminal, at the same time of allowing his softer side to seep through. It allows Colter to not play your stereotypical prisoner, but a man bound by circumstances and preconceived notions still wanting to do the right thing at the same time as looking out for himself. His character is lacking in development at times due to the screenplay, but Colter easily overcomes this with his performance.
As a duo, Butler and Colter are an excellent pairing. Butler brings the emotional aspect while Colter is the cold blooded action star, covering both requirements needed to create a memorable action team. It is the opposite role that audiences expect Butler to be in, but it is a nice change for Butler to be the other aspect of the formula, showcasing his versatility as an action star.
Never failing for a second to entertain thanks to the lead performance of Gerard Butler who soars in the lead role of Captain Brodie as both a macho action hero and a more grounded, human character, ensures that Plane will thrill audiences from start to finish.