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Plane (Film Review)

3 min read

Lionsgate

It feels an odd thing to have to lament, but the glory days of the mid-budget action movie seem long gone. The kind of movies that made mega-stars out of the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme belong to a bygone era. These days, those types of films often end up straight to on-demand or home video – there seemingly doesn't seem to be much of a marketplace for them in the local multiplex anymore (much to my – and many genre fans – chagrin). 

But every now and again one gets through and offers something decent, and more often than not these days will feature front and centre. Be it stopping Olympus, London or Angel from falling down or getting his ass to Greenland, the artist formerly known as Leonidas has seemed to specialise in giving you the kind of movies that offer unfussy genre thrills: they do what they say on the tin. 

And that is undoubtedly the case with his latest, the delightfully bluntly titled ; an action thriller that often plays like a cocktail of Flight Of The Phoenix, Con Air and Rambo. Butler is Brodie Torrance, an ex-RAF pilot flying now working for a commercial airline. A seemingly routine flight with a small bunch of passengers on New Year's Eve starts to look a little out of the ordinary when a U.S. marshal boards with a homicide suspect in tow, Louis Gaspare (). 

That's just the tip of the iceberg, however, when during the flight the plane is struck by lightning, forcing Torrance to land on an unidentified island. Much to his horror, he soon discovers this is a rebel-controlled island off the coast of the Philippines, with the rebels quickly taking his passengers hostage. And of course, the only man he can rely on to help him save the day is Gaspare. 

There are no second guesses as to the kind of film you're getting with Plane. It is very much designed with a Friday night crowd in mind, offering high stakes and well-constructed action sequences to please the masses, who it hopes have a beer or two in them as they sit down to watch. It delivers this package in as lean and as economical a fashion as possible, cutting the chase nice and quickly with some neatly placed character setup and a hair-raising crash sequence which quickly thrusts you into the action.

The pacing takes somewhat of a knock as it bridges its action sequences together, and nothing is ever going to take you by surprise. But if you're familiar with Jean-François Richet's previous work in the likes of Mesrine and the decent Assault On Precinct 13 remake, it also won't shock you to hear that the action is delivered with a decent level of visceral thrills. The final act, in particular, highlights his economy as a filmmaker in clearly establishing what is at stake, all the while squeezing the action for all its worth with its modest budget. 

It is all very much Butler's show as well, delivering the gruff charisma that he has finely tuned by now. He also has a playful chemistry with Colter (whose biceps simply demand the big screen) that you often crave the tone would lighten up a bit more to let the two spark a bit more with each other. 

Those looking to kick back and not think too hard for a couple of hours on the weekend will find just what they need with Plane. It never strives to offer much beyond the playbook of action thrillers, and certainly never hits the heights of many other classic action flicks that it echoes. It delivers exactly what you would expect from a Gerard Butler film called Plane – and there's a simple pleasure to be had in just how thrifty it is at doing that.

Plane is in cinemas nationwide from January 27th 2023