Pilot Brodie Torrance is dealt a challenging hand when his commercial plane crash-lands on a separatist island. Alongside the help of convict and former marine Louis, Brodie fights to ensure the safety of his passengers in the action-thriller Plane.
A dopey premise of Plane's nature is a picture-perfect fit for the month of January. For years, many have pigeonholed January as a black hole in the theatrical marketplace - one that often features B-movies and other genre films that have no other home in the theatrical calendar. In reality, the month spotlights its fair share of fruitful endeavors. I view January as a welcomed change of pace from the onslaught of acclaimed films that permeate the late months of the year. Offerings over the years, such as Den of Thieves, Cloverfield, and M3GAN, successfully extract crowdpleasing escapism from their warm embrace of genre movie sensibilities.
With Plane, action star Gerald Butler steps into the cockpit of an 80s action movie throwback that makes no pretenses about its unsophisticated ambitions. Yet, what the movie ultimately lacks in nuance and innovation, Plane readily makes up for in its infectious embrace of a taut, high-wire roller coaster ride.
It's easy to see why Butler is Hollywood's new A-list fixture for B-movie action films. The Scottish actor carries a towering bravado in his latest role as an earnest everyman ensnared in a life-or-death situation. Aided by the ultimate action movie hero name of Brodie Torrance, Butler commands the screen with captivating gravitas. His stern grizzle and impassioned speeches help morph a standard-issue archetype into a magnetic hero for viewers to rally behind. Likewise, Luke Cage star Mike Colter leaves a lasting impact as the imprisoned Louis. In a role that features little dialogue, Colter imbues a dynamic presence as a fearless warrior escaping from his troubled past.
Veteran director Jean-François Richet is also well-versed in piloting action movie carnage designed for the big screen (Blood Father and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake are among his credits). Richet enhances Plane throughout its runtime by showcasing savvy technical decisions. He and cinematographer Brendan Galvin imprint a guerrilla realism in their shaky cam photography, creating a kinetic grittiness that magnifies the palpable narrative tensions on display. Despite noticeable budgetary restrictions, Richet's techniques conjure several showstopping setpieces that come to life with creative vigor and a raw stylistic verve.
Plane works as a well-oiled action movie machine because of its adept self-awareness. Charles Cumming and J.P. Davis collaborate on a barebones screenplay that features little in terms of characterization and dimension. While this would be a problem with most features, Plane utilizes its inherently workmanlike qualities as the ultimate asset. The film takes no breaks for meaningless narrative fluff as it roars along like a raging locomotive hellbent on reaching its final destination. This approach may not create a movie that will leave an indelible impact on the action genre, but it does provide a welcomed infusion of cinematic splendor to the theatrical marketplace.
Plane is equivalent to the ultimate comfort food meal. Any lack of nutritional value is easy to stomach when considering the bountiful feast of campy joy the film provides.
Plane is now playing in theaters.