UrbanMatter’s Review of Gerard Butler’s ‘Plane’

The box office of 2023 continues to be dominated by the release of Avatar: The Way of Water and it does not look like it will give up its seat anytime soon. In the meantime, veteran action star Gerard Butler and his latest film, Plane, offers a more violent and gritty approach to the action thriller genre even if it is light on everything else. 

Plane opens with Butler’s character, Captain Brodie Torrence, making his way through a seemingly deserted airport to pilot a New Year’s Eve flight for a plane light on passengers. The film is full of brief moments that provide the tiniest bit of development for its main character; Brodie has not been able to spend time with his daughter thanks to an incident where he assaulted a drunken passenger; Brodie’s copilot has a family he would like to see on the holiday and Mike Colter’s character is an ex-soldier from the French Foreign Legion. The trouble is, with the exception of the copilot, most of this character development takes a long time to reveal and therefore a long time to really connect with our characters. The distance is evident between Brodie and his daughter when he connects to a video call and she is clearly on the other side of the world at the very beginning of the film. Outside of these brief developments, Plane moves forward thanks to snappy dialogue and its tense action sequences. 

After Brodie’s flight is forced to crash land following an electrical malfunction, the crew and passengers find themselves on an island in the Philippines where they are soon discovered by the local militia who control the island through fear and brutality. This island is so notorious that the Filipino military will not even go near it due to several defeats but Brodie is quick to pick up some resemblance of brutality thanks to Gaspare, Colter’s character who was introduced to viewers while wearing handcuffs and being extradited to Canada for an alleged homicide. Brodie does his best to keep the passengers calm but all bets are off once they are taken hostage. Gaspare views the situation as an odd redemption scenario for him; part of the allure of his character is that it is unclear exactly what he did but seems to be more than just a soldier who ran away. Brodie and Gaspare enjoy a very serious version of the dynamic that was on display in the film Tango and Cash or like if Al Powell and John McClane actually teamed up in Die Hard.

In spite of the marketing, Plane’s action sequences are largely limited to the climax, where Gaspare and Brodie rescue the passengers and attempt to fly their damaged plane as the militia closes in. Prior to this thrilling climax, there is a brief fight between Brodie and a militia member but this is more for Brodie’s development as he turns a corner in what he is willing to do to protect his passengers. Most of Plane’s tension comes from this invisible clock that starts from the moment the plane lands to when they will be discovered and led to certain death. The climax truly kicks off when a mercenary group arrives to save everyone and a shootout ensues. 

The camera work and action sequences are completely frenetic but only aide in the pacing as Plane clocks in at a comfortable hour and forty minutes. There are noted similarities to other action films like the aforementioned Die Hard and even The Rock. One would even be inclined to list The Defiant Ones as an influence on this film but only for the fact that a white man and a black man must work together to avoid capture and find redemption. These influences are not a bad thing and I dare anyone to find a current film that is not influenced by the great films that came before it.

There has been a growing trend in action films that buy into the “bigger is better” premise with bigger stunts, bigger set pieces and bigger casts but Plane strips away all of that pretense; its premise is exceedingly simple, its heroes are complex and likable while avoiding the trappings of required exposition, the action is tense and easy to follow along and the ending is satisfying. Plane does not seek to reinvent the wheel of action films but merely provides a serviceable entry in the genre in an otherwise crowded market. After years of making films, Gerard Butler has found his niche as a likable, everyman style of action star who is routinely tasked with saving people who are held hostage. 

VERDICT: 3.5 employee badges out of 5

Image Credit: IMDb



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