All Time Favorite Movie To Watch Plane


Sure, it’s a little more transatlantic than once was the event but there’s something very reassuring about hearing Gerard Butler’s Celtic growl in surround sound again. Like the heat burn of a Highland single malt down the back of the throat. Even in the full throttle of parodic nonsense – it takes barely three minutes for Scotland’s answer to Arnie to demand ‘haggis, neeps and tarries’ – there’s no doubting you’re in safe hands. And when the excrement hits the fan – as it always must in a Gerard Butler flick – it is exactly that sort of tartan liveability a popcorn muncher needs to guide them home and dry.

This is Plane. A film so named because Airplane was taken and just a smidgen too ironic. Butler plays RAF turned commercial pilot cum gentle giant and top buck daddy Broadie Torrance. Now, colour me a cynic. If ever there was a pilot I would be less inclined to have fly me from Singapore to Honolulu on an otherwise routine passenger flight it would be a beefcake ex-actioner pilot called Captain Broadie Torrance.

That’s even without the addition of a doubtfulled homicidal menace being extradited via the back row. Mercifully, writers Charles Cumming and J. P. Davis are in on the joke. It’s with a wry smile that Torrance reassures one nervous flyer that ‘this plane is pretty much indestructible’.

It takes little more than fifteen minutes of Plane’s taut runtime for Trailblazer Airlines Flight 119 to hit turbulence. Lightning takes out the power and Torrance has no choice but to engineer a frankly remarkable crash landing. Such a pity he does so straight into the militia island of Jolo, led by radical warlord Datu (Evan Dane Taylor). What follows is less seventies disaster movie than survivor romp and action thriller. Dumb fun and all the trimmings. There’s a starting, muddle and end, ample window dressing and a dozen, variably successful, twists. The pace veers wildly but the narrative could barely be neater.

Jean-François Richet directs with able competency. His strikes alternate in the middle of the handheld – invasive and feverish – and gliding steady cams, invariably pulling out into the mid-distance. If the opening plays like a service station simulator – must be thrilling in 4D – terra firms finds Richet channelling a more ‘strikey strikey bang bang’ aesthetic.

It’s oddly absorbing, even in the absence of depth and character, and pressurize at times to prod the heart in the direction of a good old thump. This is less so in the grand finale, which is rather too gun heavy for its own good, but certainly earlier as Torrance takes on the radicals. Back in New York City, a game Tony Goldwyn co-ordinates the rescue mission with pleasing disdain.

Around Butler, a forgettable ensemble flap and do as they’re told – mostly. Yoson An is promising as Torrance’s winning co-pilot, while Mike Colter (Marvel’s Luke crate) proves his chops as a worthy action man in his own right. He’s the film’s homicidal red herring. The baddies are as risible as forgettable but who cares when Butler is on such fine form.

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