film reel image

film reel image

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Plane 2023 * * * Stars


It doesn't feature Liam Neeson, it came out in the doldrums of January, and um, it's actually pretty good. Yeah I'm talking about 2023's Plane, a conventional thriller sans stock, where convention and old hat are sometimes needed. Bullets fly, fists pound, chokeholds are issued, and well, there is flight (duh). Plane is action and drama and B-movie trope-d, all spritzed-up nicely for the more distinguished, bargain basement crowd. 

Starring Gerard Butler, a fine actor who sadly has made a few stinkers (I blame his agent), Plane gives Gerard the opportunity to flex, to give a raw performance from a physical and mental standpoint. Here he plays Brodie Torrance, a pilot trying to save the lives of his passengers when his aircraft goes down in a criminal part of the Philippines (hence the film's lucid title). Butler is all masculine, empathetic, and determined, matched scene for scene by Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a dude on his plane being extradited via homicide chargers.

Directed by Frenchman Jean-Francois Richet, Plane has almost perfect casting, crisp editing, and an in-your-face style where Richet literally puts the camera right up in everyone's grills. You feel every bone crunch, every gunshot, and every virtual smackdown. Technically, Plane is solid even though it feels a little 2000s-ish. The combat scenes are Bourne-like, loud, and jumpy. The flying sequences are streamlined and rather axonometric. 

Now does Plane have a few plot holes? Sure it does. What 107-minute flick doesn't. And does Plane have characters whose arcs sort of taper off? Yup. By the windup, you don't know what happened to the rest of the bad guys, the dopey airline owner, and antihero, homicide boy. Still, Richet knows how to "ratchet" up tension, put bodies in motion, and pull at the almighty ticker. Just think of his Plane as Die Hard on a bird (or um, Die Hard 2). 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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