The Movie Waffler New to VOD - PLANE | The Movie Waffler

New to VOD - PLANE

New to VOD - PLANE
pilot is forced to team up with a fugitive criminal when he crash lands his plane on a war-torn island.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jean-François Richet

Starring: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Daniella Pineda, Paul Ben-Victor, Remi Adeleke, Joey Slotnick, Evan Dane Taylor, Claro de los Reyes, Tony Goldwyn

Plane poster

Hollywood has gotten so lazy that no thought is even put into coming up with a good title now. Plane isn't just as reductive a title as you could imagine, it doesn't even make much sense. "Island" would have been more appropriate, as only about 15 minutes of the movie takes place on a plane, with the bulk of it playing out on an island.

Not just any island, but the sort of island Arnie or Michael Dudikoff might rock up to in the climax of one of their 1980s action fests. It's an island run by militant Filipinos who constantly snarl in that very specific way Asian villains tend to in America movies. They all have unkempt hair, unlike the film's good Asian, Dele (Yoson An), a Hong Kong co-pilot with a sensible haircut. There are neutral Asians too, a few passengers and crew members who are killed off because the producers probably assume American audiences will identify less with them than the various black, latin and white characters. Well I guess it's a change from Hollywood pandering to China.

Plane review

Plane doesn't just not give a toss about offending Asians, it puts the boot into the English early on as the wonderfully named Captain Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler, of course) proudly declares his Scottish nationality, scoffing at Dele's poor guess that he might come from the country immediately below. The only English character in the movie is the whiniest passenger. It makes sense that this is a movie directed by a Frenchman (Jean-Francois Richet, who established his action credentials with the French true crime epic Mesrine) and starring a Scot.

Brodie comes off as a collection of action movie hero tropes, most of which fail to play any real part in the narrative. When we meet him first he's arriving late for take-off, looking like he just came from an early house, which makes us think Brodie is an alcoholic, but if that were the case he'd probably be played by Liam Neeson. Butler just looks permanently dishevelled, which makes him a poor choice for a pilot. If I were a passenger and the pilot looked as wrecked as Butler I'd wait for the next flight. But Brodie is a maverick, you see. He's ex-military of course, having flown for the RAF, but the film seems to forget this when he's called upon to fight later on and he acts like a civilian. Brodie has a dead wife, but this detail serves absolutely no purpose.

Plane review

When some penny-pinching airline bureaucrat ignores Brodie's warning about a storm on his route from Singapore to the US, the titular craft is forced to crashland on Bad Asian Island. Brodie swaps his crisp captain's outfit for a pre-sweat-stained green t-shirt straight from the Zelensky wardrobe and heads off looking for help. He's accompanied by Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a wanted fugitive who was being extradited back to the US. Louis is ex-military too, having served in the French Foreign legion. I'm guessing he was originally written as a Frenchman, but Colter is very American. Look, the movie is called fucking PLANE; don't expect them to go to the trouble of changing a character's name.

We're set up for a classic buddy action movie, and in 1988 this probably would have starred Roddy Piper and Keith David. But Plane doesn't understand that this sort of dynamic requires tension and conflict. Brodie and Louis hit it off from the start, denying us the sort of fun bickering we expect when two tough guys on opposite sides of the moral divide are forced to work in tandem. We should be wondering if Louis is going to shoot Brodie in the back at some point to make his getaway (this should be 3:10 to Yuma in the jungle), but Louis is a total softie when it comes to Brodie.

For a movie with such a dumb title, Plane takes itself surprisingly seriously. In the first few minutes a big-breasted Swedish model declares that the seat number she's booked is "34D", but I'm not sure if it's intentionally written as a gag, as there are no further puns in the remainder of the movie. Films like this got released on a weekly basis in the '90s, but they would always make sure to employ a script polisher to add in a few jokes, something Plane is direly lacking. It also unwisely avoids some of the cliches we expect and demand from this sort of movie. A more in tune version of this film ends with Brodie punching the penny-pinching bureaucrat who caused this, before walking off into the sunset nursing his wounds.

Plane review

For all my complaints, I had fun with Plane. Maybe that's because I had just sat through Women Talking, and really needed a dumb action movie to cleanse my palette of washed out Oscar bait. There are a lot of missed opportunities here, but it sticks to the action template just enough to satisfy viewers who like movies where an action hero has to explain why he doesn't have an American accent. My screening was packed full of men of a certain age, and they seemed to be having an absolute blast.

You've got to give it Butler; he's made a career in Hollywood despite resembling the sort of bloke that would install your broadband. When most of today's action stars are pumping themselves full of 'roids and jumping out of planes, Gerry is happy to sport a paunch and can't even bother shaving when he's playing a commercial pilot. Few action stars have been so relatable.

Plane is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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