At the Movies With Josh: Plane

When my wife and I were leaving the screening, she sarcastically said, “Well, that was a plausible movie, huh?”

I laughed and replied, “It was actually…plausibly implausible. I can let a few things go in a fun action picture, as long as they don’t get too carried away with the craziness.”

By the time we got to the car, we both agreed that – for a movie called “Plane” – a horrible title that makes you think of garbage like Snakes on a Plane – the picture was surprisingly fun.

Since Gerard Butler has made a decision to go down the Liam Neeson path of movie making, we see him running through the airport like OJ Simpson (for you younger folks, that’s not a reference to Simpson fleeing the murder scene, but commercials he did in the ‘70s). He’s a pilot that is a bit late to his flight in Singapore, because he’s talking to the teenage daughter he doesn’t see much of. They’re making plans to meet up. Little does she know, her dad possesses a “special set of skills” that…will enable him to make Sully’s landing on the water look like a walk in the park.

We meet the flight attendants, and a couple of the small number of passengers. We’re introduced to the obnoxious bald guy, who we figure will be the first one picked off by the bad guys. We also meet the muscular bald guy (Mike Colter). He’s in handcuffs, and the captain knows nothing about this situation. Turns out, he’s being extradited at the last minute on a murder charge. We know he’s not going to go all Con-Air on everyone, because as we've seen in the trailers, the captain has to trust him when this island of rebels and insurgents tries capturing everyone for ransom. Let the high jinks ensue!

Now, here’s the crazy thing about me when I analyze and review movies. I don’t mind a plane doing something it might not be able to do (even though they got ridiculous with things in the Denzel movie Flight). I have a bigger problem with the fact that we’re supposed to think pilot Brodie Torrence is working out of Singapore because he got into trouble for assaulting a drunk passenger on a plane. Yet when we see the video of what happened – it’s CLEARLY self-defense (he was punched first). It makes me think – if he got into trouble for that, what will his bosses and the FAA say about him shooting and killing anti-government militias?

So I’m bothered with that small thing more than anything else in the entire movie. 

It was a pleasant surprise to see that Butler was playing a guy that, while tough, is not over the top. It’s those types of characters that made us realize how goofy action pictures are when they had Chuck Norris in the ‘70s, Van Damme, Mel Gibson, and Segal in the ‘80s, and Arnold and Sly in the ‘90s, and now Vin Diesel, the Rock and Liam. It’s more interesting to watch a tough guy, who seems more normal and a bit vulnerable. In fact, the first fight we see him in, he almost loses.

Director Jean-Francois Richet deserves credit for giving us a B-movie, without the normal B movie complaints you might have.

I did think they could have toned down the Tony Goldwyn character, who is brought in to try to help rescue the crew and bark orders at everyone who has screwed things up. 

Daniella Pineda (Cowboy Bebop) is a gorgeous flight attendant, and it’s nice that we didn’t see a romance with the much older Butler. There’s a sweet moment they have at the end, that reminded me of when we see Tom Hanks break down in tears at the end of Captain Phillips

I also like some of the more subtle scenes that ratchet up the tension. For example, that first fight scene. The captain is talking to his daughter from a phone in an abandoned building, and as he looks out the window, we see a truck with the door open. It reminded me of how I felt in No Country For Old Men, when Brolin goes back to bring water to the dying drug runners he stole money from, and he looks up and notices a truck with headlights on, that wasn’t there before.

I did get a little tired of the shaky-cam, which has always been a pet peeve of mine.

But in January, which is notorious for bad movies being released, I’ve now seen M3GAN and Plane, both 5-letter, one word titles – that were guilty pleasures.

3 stars out of 5.


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