Attention passengers, it’s Burl here to review some January schlock! Ha ha, we all know about the grand January tradition the studios have of releasing lower-brow genre movies into the theatres in the turbulent recirculating flow left by the Christmas holidays! January is regularly regarded as a dumping ground for movies that might inadvertently make some money, but which, even if entertaining, aren’t likely to garner much prestige! It’s a long and glorious tradition and I could name plenty of examples from the past: Deep Star Six, The Kindred, Demon Knight, Phantoms – all of these being entertaining genre fare that appeared in the first month of their respective years!
And now, whoosh, here comes Plane! Ha ha, that makes me sound like a caveman who’s just seeing an airplane for the first time; but yes, the movie is actually called Plane! Yes, just Plane, tout court! Less than half of the picture takes place on the titular conveyance, and so the movie might just as well have been called Island, but never mind that for now! The title helps it fit into its paradigm: the ideal January goofnugget! It takes place on New Year’s Eve after all, with many instances of characters wishing a happy same to other characters (almost as frequently as characters exhort one another to “Get down!!!!”), yet it all happens in a tropical locale in which everybody gets hot and sweaty! So on a wintry January day in Canada, you can go off to the theatre with your son and take in a brainless lark and imagine you too are hanging out among the palms!
Unshaven gumdrop Gerard Butler from Olympus Has Fallen plays Torrance, the pilot with a mildly scandalous past thanks to an event in which he used his brawn against a rage-demented passenger! He and a friendly co-pilot played by Yoson An from The Meg are flying from Singapore to Hawaii with a comically small load of passengers when they run up against a storm that knocks their aircraft all a-frizzle! This drawn-out crash scene is maybe the best part of the picture, and once they’re safely down on a Philippines-adjacent island there’s a bit of time to kill before they realize there are violent separatists lurking nearby – the kind who enjoy kidnapping people, holding them for ransom, then shooting them anyway!
The passengers are mostly a bunch of nonentities, but among them is a Canadian criminal called Gaspare being transported by the RCMP back to Toronto for trial! Gaspare is played by Mike Colter from Men In Black 3, and of course once his handcuffs are off he proves to be a resourceful type and handy at pounding separatists with a sledgehammer! It pretty quickly comes down to Torrance and Gaspare trying to make contact with authorities and rescuing the passengers from the clutches of the separatists!
While all this is going on, back in a glossy black chamber somewhere in Manhattan, the head of the airline, Paul Ben-Victor from Metro, calls in a dealing-with-it specialist named Scarsdale, essayed by Tony Goldwyn from Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives, and he in turn calls in a gang of mercenaries to try to find and rescue the castaway passengers! Once these mercenaries have arrived, we get some group shootouts and, eventually, a return to the plane, which proves surprisingly bulletproof while under extended machine gun attack!
Ha ha, like Butler’s _________ Has Fallen movies, this is a sort of throwback to 80s and 90s action! It’s not quite as fun, cheesy, or action-packed as that description might imply, however – aside from the crash, a fair punch-up mid-picture, and the machine gun / plane take-off climax, the movie is largely made up of people sitting around looking glum! The main bad guy glowers but doesn’t make much of an impression, and we never even get a chance to find out what his specific political issues are! Ha ha, aside from his penchant for shooting tourists and missionaries, for all we know maybe he’s not such a bad guy!
Like its 80s and 90s forbears the picture is pretty simple-minded: as simple-minded as its title in fact, but it’s also perfectly amiable – too dumb to offend, too eager-to-please to embrace the mean spiritedness some action pictures have! (Usually a moment in which the likeable co-pilot shows off a photo of his lovely family is a sure harbinger of his death, but not here!) Being a good candidate for dumping-ground release is not a stellar achievement for a movie, but it’s still an achievement, and I didn’t mind paying a few bucks to see this particular achiever! Still, I hope the next movie I take in on the big screen is better! Ha ha, I’ll give Plane two passenger lists and try to book a better flight next time!