While I appreciate an action flick as much as the next person, I primarily wanted to see this because of Gerard Butler and Mike Coulter. I know Gerard Butler can be great in the right role, and Mike Coulter is a phenomenal actor who deserves a higher-profile role. While the film struggles in some areas, Gerard Butler and Mike Coulter are fantastic, and the action soars, building incredible tension and far more engaging than I expected.
Plane is an action thriller film directed by Jean-François Richet and written by Charles Cumming and J.P. Davis. The movie features Gerard Butler as Captain Brodie Torrance, a commercial pilot flying a plane to Tokyo and Honolulu on New Year’s Eve. The flight also has an unexpected passenger, a prisoner, Louis Gaspar (Mike Coulter), who’s held in handcuffs by an FBI agent who is taking him back to the United States. During the flight, the plane is hit by lightning and damaged, forcing Brodie to make an unexpected landing, with the officer dying during the storm. Unfortunately, once they land, the crew and passengers find out that the landing was just the beginning, as they are taken hostage by the inhabitants of the war-torn island. Brodie is the only one who can get to them in time, and his only help is Gaspar, who is more than meets the eye. The pair must work together to survive and rescue the others, but will they manage to get off the island once they do?
Part of the reason I found the film so compelling was the filmmaking itself. The director makes judicious use of a snapshot style of the storm and a few other dangerous scenes that allows the audience a more intimate point of view of what’s happening. Especially when the plane lands, we get different passengers’ perspectives, including Gaspar, and that allows the audience to connect to the emotion of the moment. It also isn’t overused and doesn’t use the shaky camera use that I dislike and usually isn’t needed. We get just enough to relate to the motion and fear in the scene.
Another element that I appreciated was how accurately so much of the action is portrayed. While there are a couple of moments early on that are simply there to drive the narrative and aren’t believable (the captain greeting passengers or someone standing during a storm), most of the action is fairly authentic. The damage to the plane, and how Brodie lands the plane safely, each aspect is true to the little I know. The area of the world that they’re in is a dangerous part of the world, so hostages are believable. Brodie is shown to be a decent fighter, but when he does tangle with one of the islanders, the fight isn’t easy, nor does he take pleasure in fighting. He is shown to be a really good pilot, while Gaspar is the one with more experience in fighting. And there are some fantastic scenes with a 50 caliber rifle that is truly fantastic and completely realistic. That realism adds to the fun of the film and keeps me engaged throughout the story.
I also appreciate the story structure. The writing drops small pieces of information about Brodie, Gaspar, and the island as needed. We get an emotional connection to Brodie immediately when we learn he has a daughter he is trying to be with for New Year’s Eve. We also learn about the co-pilot Dele’s (Yoson An) family and meet flight attendant Bonnie (Daniella Pineda). The film gives us more about Gaspar and hints that there is more to his character and how he reacts to the other passengers only as we need the information. I like that we don’t get overloaded with details that aren’t necessary.
The acting is fantastic. Gerard Butler is charming and funny and portrays Brodie as a caring man. It is his acting and charisma that holds the attention throughout the film. His dynamic with Mike Coulter playing Gaspar is fantastic. Mike Coulter is expressive, strong, and able to give hints to his character with the tiniest of gestures or expressions. He and Gerard Butler play off each other well and are the main focus of the film. Yoson An playing Dele is excellent, as is Daniella Pineda. The actors playing the passengers also provide emotional performances and highlight the tension and fear of the situation.
Now, there are some elements that aren’t quite as well done. Most of the islanders or bad guys are pretty faceless. We only really get the name of the chief of the group, and even then, we never learn motivations other than money. The same can be said for the passengers. While it is a small group, we don’t ever learn much about them as individuals, and they are there for Brodie to be heroic. While I like that the story doesn’t overload the audience with a lot of details, we also don’t learn much about anyone but Brodie and then only enough to explain his actions and why he’s flying the plane on this particular route. While the film hints at there being more to Gaspar, we never are told much about the character, and while Mike Coulter does a wonderful job portraying him, it feels like we never get to connect to his character or find out enough about him. There are also hints about the character that never pays off by the end of the film, and I’m left wondering why those details were included if the audience does not get more of a reveal of who this individual is and why he is there. That was my biggest disappointment; I wanted so much more of Mike Coulter and his character. And it was not for lack of skill on the actor’s part. I also was bugged by details like the lack of a full plane and a passenger standing up in a storm. But for the most part, the realistic gritty action was enough to keep me glued to my seat.
Overall, I will say that I was highly entertained, just by the action scenes and the situation that the crew and passengers find themselves in. While I would have loved that the passengers were not faceless or the bad guys, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. I would have appreciated more of Mike Coulter’s character, however. But both he and Gerard Butler gave really strong performances and were great to watch. The conclusion of the movie was thrilling, and the action soared. If you love action movies with grit and realism, you will love this film.
Rating: 4 out of 5 crashes.
In the white-knuckle action movie PLANE, 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.
PLANE opens exclusively in theaters nationwide on January 13, 2023.
ONE-LINER: A pilot finds himself caught in a war zone after he’s forced to land his commercial aircraft during a terrible storm.