A throwback action movie! But is it… plane sailing? (Note: This pun better than any dialogue in actual movie!)

What’s The Movie? Plane

What’s It All About, JG? Well, there’s this plane, you see. And the pilot of the plane, Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler, every bit as convincing a pilot as I am), takes the plane to the place where the plane needs to go to but the plane hits some bad weather and is damaged so the plane has to make an emergency landing on a jungle island and then Torrance and convicted-prisoner-being-transported Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter) leave the plane to get help but then the passengers and first officer Samuel Dele (Yoson An) gets captured by… uh, locals (?) and they have to get back to the plane and then fix enough of the plane to take off while under fire and also there are some mercenaries who try to help with the rescue of the the plane and sort-of do but also Garpare doesn’t make it on to the plane and runs off with a big bag of money instead and then the plane takes off but has to do an emergency landing on the next island over but one which actually has an airport and then the plane lands and that’s it.


Why Did You Give It A Go? Literally just to have some colours move in front of my face on a bored Saturday night, a level of quality the film very nearly aspires to.

Is It Any Good? If ever there was a film custom-made for the Rifftrax crew it’s surely this one. A cheesy, corny-as-hell, action-movie throwback that revels in its own idiocy, paper-thin plot and characters, and tries to get any of it to stick. But stick it does not and so it falls flat on its own big face. Calling it as dumb as a bag of rocks would be insulting towards sackfuls of granite.

But ludicrous throwback action movies can be fun! The Fast and The Furious series tap into this pretty much effortlessly. The Expendables managed to mix old-school action-movies tropes and stars for three increasingly-poor movies but at least they understood the charm of what made the originals appealing in the first place. Big, centre-stage, muscle-bound lead. Absurdly over-the-top bad-guy plan. Cornball but quotable dialogue. Maybe the odd inventive death or two. Plane desperately reaches for those standards but consistently falls short – there’s just not enough here to get excited about.

Take Gerard Butler as Example A. Cast in the role of pilot, it says here, he neither looks like nor remotely convinces as one. Which, fine, if that’s our way in, an action movie can deal with a star that doesn’t quite fill out the lead role but if we get to the action quickly enough it doesn’t really matter. But Butler is both not good enough and too good for the role. He gets a couple of moments when he actually acts (usually when thinking of his daughter or dead wife). He’s genuinely good at the soulful moments and it gives him a little bit of depth and character.

Not the character he’s playing – I mention again again he’s meant to be a pilot, and I kept having to remind myself of this watching the movie both because of the implausibility and also idly speculating if this plane had been an EasyJet flight what our chances of survival might have been – but some kind of character anyway. That’s not really something muscle-gun-guy-person needs but when we actually get to the muscle-gun-guy stuff Butler is… kind of bland. He’s not given any interesting dialogue beyond a determined insistence to mention that he’s Scottish at every available moment (we’re about thirty seconds in before haggis, neeps and tatties get mentioned, to give you a sense of the quality of this character investment) and otherwise pulls off action sequences with competence but no flair or interest.

That’s not completely his fault – the direction here is incredibly flat and unengaging. Action movies, especially wannabe-throwbacks like this, live or die on their action sequences and this one mostly dies. Partly that’s because the script takes so damned long to get us to the jungle, and partly because when we get there nothing very exciting happens. There’s a few gun battles and whatnot but it’s very seen-it-all-before. There’s one briefly (and genuinely) funny moment near the end when one of the mercenaries opens fire with a huge caliber gun and shoots people through vehicles. The film needs a lot more of that and a lot less he-shoots-and-ducks-then-he-shoots and ducks that’s got about as much inventiveness as a middling episode of Miami Vice.

How Many Of These Did You Watch? If you’re speaking of Gerard Butler movies, I’ve seen 300 and watched Geostorm drunk on a north sea ferry, which is probably the ideal way to see it, really. I might have giggled my way through Gods of Egypt too, but I’m not sure and definitely not going to check one way or the other.

Would You Recommend It? Only if you really need to see Mike Colter sweaty and with bulging muscles but even then you’d be better off rewatching Luke Cage. Colter, for what it’s worth, does his best here but, like Butler, doesn’t really have anything to work with. He’s got plenty of screen presence, which helps a lot, and at least he manages to have a role that feels like he might actually have been cast because he was right for it. I’d love to say more about him – he’s a great actor utterly wasted in this pointless waste of space on a hard drive – but there’s nothing else to say. Oh, except at the end when he legs with a bag full of cash the mercenaries brought to bribe their way out of any difficult situations, which is quite funny. Not sure if it’s meant to be, but anyway.

Oh yeah, the mercenaries. The airline hires them to get the crew and passengers back. Is… that standard operating procedure for an airline? Coulter’s Gaspare isn’t some high-profile bad guy, he’s just someone who’s been done for a homicide and is being transported. None of the other passengers – calling their characters cardboard would be seriously upgrading them – matter at all, nor have more than one single trait (and a few don’t even have that). Our Hero, The Pilot, is just a pilot. Yet the airline gets straight on to the mercenaries and send them in for a rescue. Do you have to tick a box on the company’s website when you’re booking your ticket for that kind of rescue service? “Carbon offset, tick, choose your seat, tick, mercenary rescue package… what do you think, darling, should we spring for the recovery deal just in case we get captured by the world’s thickest people traffickers?” People traffickers so pitifully incompetent, incidentally, that they can’t take down a mostly-crippled civilian jet limping along the runway then staggering into the air despite the masses of weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and whatnot at their disposal. Just rubbish.

There are odd little glimmers of a better movie in here. Butler has some genuine rapport with his co-pilot, the appealing Yoson An, and An’s character (his name might as well be Mr Someone Co-pilot) is a likable on-screen presence and given enough technical ability to make a pleasing contrast to all that sweaty growling in the jungle. He doesn’t get enough to do, but when he gets something he makes the most of it. And Bonnie, a flight attendant played by Daniella Pineda, is given a surprising amount of respect and is competent, gets on with her job, and doesn’t panic in the face of one crisis after another. You’d never call it feminist, but given how badly women are normally treated in this kind of movie it does at least count for something. Not much. But something.

For the rest… eesh. It wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of effort to make this an actually-appealing throwback but it seems effort is the one thing hardly anyone is expending here. Throwback dumb action moves are fine as a thing to go for but Plane‘s problem is simply that it’s not good enough for that. Butler and Colter seem to be committed – as maybe they should have been for agreeing to be in this rubbish – but it’s not in service of anything. There’s a few unintentionally amusing moments, a few bits which aren’t dreadful, but for the most part it’s just there.

Colours did indeed move in front of my face, which is what I had hoped for going into this, but how sad it is that this is pretty much the best thing I can find to say about it.

Scores on the Doors? 3.5/10 Mostly because Mike Colter is hot, to be honest.

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