Plane is anything but plain. Even though this action thriller lands at the start of the year, don't let it fool anyone from being an exciting, violent thrill ride for 95 minutes, because that's precisely what it is - and then some! Most action movies of this caliber have a specific formula that has been seen time and time again and offer no real entertainment value. Still, with King Leonidas and Luke Cage sharing the spotlight with French filmmaker Jean-Francois Richet sitting in the director's chair, Plane has some great surprises in its cockpit that stand above most January movies. Recommended!
Jean-Francois Richet turned heads with his remake of John Carpenter's classic Assault on Precinct 13, which he followed that film up with the Mel Gibson vehicle Blood Father a few years later. Richet knows how to build suspense and action for sure, but it's almost non-stop in Plane as Gerard Butler Captains up as a pilot hilariously and appropriately named for an action film - Brodie Torrance, for a commercial airliner on New Year's Eve. There are only about a dozen people on his international flight along with an inmate named Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), who is being transported for his murder conviction some fifteen years earlier.
Richet builds this film as an action/survival film set in the sky where the first twenty minutes or so deliver some exquisitely suspenseful turbulent weather as the plane and its passengers brace for a crash landing. As the plane lands on a remote island, it's quick to reveal that the island is not friendly and that it's run by a murderous militia who are quick to kill anyone that doesn't belong on their island. Of course, there is more than meets the eye with both inmate Gaspare and Brodie Torrance, which is where the film switches gears into a buddy action film with highly violent sequences which include a 50 caliber sniper rifle, a sledgehammer, and machetes allowing both leads to save the day and protect the other passengers.
This could easily be a run-of-the-mill action movie with no spark of life whatsoever, but Gerard Butler always comes through with sincerity and ferocity to each role as his protagonistic ways walk that line into the anti-hero territory. And he's pitch-perfect in this role. Mike Colter is just as great here as the mysterious inmate who might just need a sequel film just for his character. But what makes Plane rise above the rest are its little differences in how the film is told. For example, the first fight scene with Butler is filmed in one shot and lasts about 90 seconds! For this type of film, that is surprising as every slice and punch is felt with force. Butler's Torrance character doesn't always make the right move, but sometimes it has hilarious effects in a good way where Gaspare has to take him down a peg or two.
Plane also has weight and stakes because it doesn't shy away from showcasing some of the more brutal and bloodier death scenes which will cause some cheers. And of course, as an homage to those epic '80s action movies, that main antagonist has a superior and wonderfully glorious end that even Schwarzenegger would appreciate. Plane doesn't try to be something it isn't. It knows exactly what it should be and it succeeds and delivers in a short amount of time rather than the normal two and a half hours some recent films would like to slog through. Butler and Colter are a fantastic duo and let's all hope they team up for another trip. Recommended!