Director: Jean-François Richet
Writers: Charles Cumming, J.P. Davis
Stars: Gerard Butler Mike Colter, Tony Goldwyn
Whether he’s aware of it or not, Gerard Butler performs a valuable public service. With Charles Bronson long gone, Bruce Willis’ sad retirement, and Liam Neeson reaching the nadir of his plausibility as an action hero, who’s left to carry the torch? Don’t you dare suggest Vin Diesel.
Like those ass-kicking everymen of the past, Gerard’s resume primarily consists of mid-range thrillers that seldom challenge the intellect or rule the box office. In fact, most of ‘em play a lot better on your living room sofa. But more often than not, they’re reliably entertaining because they deliver exactly as advertised. And while Gerard isn’t likely to ever stick an Oscar statue on his shelf, he displays grim determination with an earnestness that’s perfect for these roles.
Add Plane to his growing list of meat & potatoes action films, which meets audience expectations without ever exceeding them. In this one, he plays airline pilot Brodie Torrance, forced to make an emergency landing on a remote Philippine island after his plane is struck by lightning. Also on board is captured fugitive Louis Gaspere (Mike Colter), who’s facing murder charges. Unfortunately, the island is populated by vicious rebels led by Datu Jumnar (Evan Dane Taylor). Though distrustful of each other, Brodie and Louis venture through the jungle to a nearby abandoned compound hoping to contact authorities. But while they’re gone, Junmar captures all the surviving passengers – killing a few – with plans to hold them for ransom.
Neither local law enforcement nor the military is willing to tangle with the rebels, so the airline recruits combat expert Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn), who organizes a rescue operation by hiring mercenaries to infiltrate the island…armed to the nuts, of course. But until they arrive, it’s up to Brodie and Louis – also armed to the nuts after dispatching a few rebels – to spring the hostages before Junmar kills any more of them. Naturally, mayhem ensues.
Storywise, there ain’t a hell of a lot of surprises, but after some brief obligatory exposition, the movie delivers an abundance of violent, well-executed action. Of course, Gerard is his usual dependable self…an engaging hero who’ll throw down if forced to, but not so invulnerable that he ceases to be credible. Actually, Louis does most of the dirty work here, offing bad guys with ruthless efficiency. Well played by Colter, he’s a great character. Considering his background and skill set, Louis would make an entertaining antihero in a movie of his own.
Like most of Gerard Butler’s filmography, Plane ain’t gonna rack-up awards or end up on anybody’s top 10 list, but we knew that going in. What ultimately matters is it’s exactly the movie you think it will be. In that respect, it’s hard to imagine being disappointed. Butler continues to carry the action hero torch quite admirably.