Where do I start with Plane? If you watched the trailer and thought, “this is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen,” you wouldn’t be wrong. Between the one-word title that comes out of nowhere, like a 747 onto your screen or Gerard Butler chewing up the scenery, it wouldn’t be wrong to think that this is just a fluff action movie being released in January. However, once you see Plane, it has more layers, takes more inspiration from a wide range of genres, and does quite a lot to make this action flick memorable. First, it has the new generation’s Charles Bronson starring in it, Gerard Butler. He plays Captain Brodie Torrance, an airline pilot trying to get home on New Year’s Eve to see his daughter Daniela (played by Haleigh Hekking).

In addition to the complications of flying on New Year’s Eve, his 14-passenger flight is joined by an Air Marshall and a dangerous prisoner. Louis Gaspare (played by Mike Colter) is being extradited, and Captain Torrance is forced to have him on the plane. That’s an interesting enough setup for a movie, with some possible situations and scenarios involving a convicted murderer on a plane trip, but no, Plane doesn’t stop there.

The plane must also fly through dangerous weather because an airline technician wants them to save fuel. So naturally, it gets struck by lightning and has to make an emergency landing. So, in addition to your horror movie about an almost plane crash, you get the action that you know and love from Gerard Butler. Oh, and the island that they landed on is run by criminals and government separatists, so the passengers get kidnapped, leaving Brodie and Gaspare to save them.

How Is The Acting And Performances In Plane?

Gerard Butler and Mike Colter have excellent chemistry that shines through in their action scenes. They move like a team, and even in the scenes before they have to get to kicking ass, the subtle stuff in their performances, like Brodie having to decide whether to unlock the handcuffs from Gaspare or how he “volunteers” to go search for a phone after they land, it’s good stuff. As for the rest of the cast, the 14 passengers all get a little to work with, but they’re not as memorable besides fleeting moments. While they’re marooned, some of them, like Oliver Trevena, get some good lines, but by and large, they’re here to be saved by Brodie and Gaspare.

When they land, the airline has a crisis team headed by Scarsdale (played by Tony Goldwyn). Usually, he’d be the type of antagonistic corporate guy, but here, he’s actually a foil to the corporate stooges of the airline. He goes around the rules and tries his hardest to get Brodie and the passengers home. He even gets some humorous lines berating the technician who let them fly through the storm. Goldwyn does an excellent job with little material and makes for a memorable character.

Scarsdale calls in some mercenaries because the Philippines won’t send in anyone to the island without a full military detail. The mercenaries get some of the film’s best action and most remarkable scenes. They’re led by Shellback (played by Remi Adeleke). While most are nameless dudes, one, in particular, uses a gigantic sniper rifle to significant effect during the finale. So, Plane might not have the best use of some of these characters, but they all perform admirably.

Why Is Plane Rated-R And Is It Worth Your Watch?

This movie could be rated PG-13, and it would be fine. Outside of a couple of shots of blood bursting out of people and gore, they could have gone for the easy rating. However, that gore, that bloodshed, and that brutality does a lot for Plane in the end. Mike Colter swings a sledgehammer around in this movie like he’s Mr. T, and that amount of badassery is aided by the extra gore. The terrorists they’re fighting against take a lot of damage, and it feels like a throwback to action movies of yesterday. We’re in a John Wick-styled world, but this feels more like Commando. Plane is a Call of Duty campaign mission come to life at points. There’s a mix of horror with the plane drama and even some lighter, more tender moments.

The script by Charles Cumming and J.P. Davis is tight. While it does take a bit to get to where you’d like to go, it gets the job done. Jean-Francois Richet shows off some nice style with his directing. A particular highlight is the plane sequences with Brodie landing the plane under extreme circumstances. In some other directors’ hands, this could have been overly effects driven. Instead, the spotlight is on Brodie and his co-pilot Dele (played by Yoson An).

The Unexpected Action In Plane

What I enjoyed the most about Plane was that it wasn’t what I expected. Gerard Butler gets his ass kicked. He almost loses plenty of times. Like John McClane, he takes a beating and keeps on going. He doesn’t win this fight without help and gets plenty of help in the film from all kinds of sources. Plane is a communal action film that gives almost everyone a shine. There’s even some time for reflection at the end of the film from Brodie on the ordeal he’s had to go through. This movie is what would happen if, in Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks was allowed to kick some ass.

Plane borrows a lot from plenty of genres and other movies, but it works incredibly well. You’ll be cheering for the high points and hanging on the edge of your seat for the thrilling and tense moments. Gerard Butler elevates another would-be-disaster into something eminently watchable.

Plane releases in theaters on January 13th, 2023.

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