Plane (2023) ☆☆(2/4): As plain as it sounds

I know it sounds like a cliché, but “Plane” is sadly as plain as it sounds, and that is a big disappointment for me. As your average B-action flick, it does not provide much fun or surprise as earnestly following its familiar story formula without any style or personality, and the overall result is fairly competent but ultimately superficial to say the least.

Gerard Butler, who is no stranger to B-action flicks just like Liam Neeson and also participated in the production of the film as one of its co-producers, plays Brodie Torrance, a Scottish commercial pilot who has worked for some big commercial airline. New Year’s Day is near, but Torrance has to fly an airplane to depart from Singapore as scheduled, and the opening scene shows him hurriedly arriving in the airport not long after the departure time.

While there are not many passengers on the airplane, Torrance is concerned about one particular passenger. That passenger in question is a former French Foreign Legion soldier named Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), and this guy is being extradited to Canada on charges of homicide by an accompanying Canadian police officer. Although Gaspare is placed around the end of the airplane while also being handcuffed, Torrance understandably worries about whether Gaspare’s presence will unnerve the other passengers on the airplane, and Gaspare certainly draws their attention despite his silent appearance.

Anyway, Torrance and his co-pilot come to pay more attention the other safety issue to face during their flight. They are instructed to take a shortcut across the South China Sea for saving time and fuel, but a storm happens to be developing in the area, and it is possible that the airplane may have to go through that storm. As Torrance worried from the beginning, the airplane eventually comes across that storm which becomes more dangerous than before, and things soon become quite perilous when the airplane comes to have a big malfunction problem after getting struck by a lightning in the middle of the storm.

Torrance manages to land the airplane on one of those tropical islands in the Philippines, but the situation turns out to be much problematic than expected. Because the electronic system of the airplane is broken, he and others on the airplane are totally isolated from the outside world, and they may have to wait for many days before the search party finally locate them. Therefore, Torrance decides to go inside the surrounding jungle area for looking for any chance for communicating with the outside world, and he reluctantly enlists Gaspare in his little desperate operation because of Gaspare’s military experience.

Right from the beginning, Gaspare seems to be ready for his possible escape, but, of course, he turns out to be more helpful than expected when it is confirmed that not only he and Torrance but also others are in a really serious danger. As Torrance’s co-pilot warned in advance, the island is a lawless region occupied by criminals and rebel soldiers, and the leader of a rebel group is already ready to take all the passengers and crew members of the airplane as hostages once he receives the information about its emergency landing.

Of course, Torrance and Gaspare work together for saving the passengers and crew members of the airplane, but the movie does not generate much suspense from that as flatly providing one predictable moment to another. Yes, both of them show us how tough they are, though Torrance is relatively less skilled than Gaspare in eliminating those rebel soldiers one by one. Yes, the passengers and crew members of the airplane come to have very unpleasant experiences thanks to the leader of the rebel group and his equally cruel and barbaric soldiers, and I was not surprised to learn later that the movie was not so welcomed by the people of the Philippines.

Above all, the movie fails to develop Torrance and Gaspare into solid action movie heroes to watch. While we get to know a bit about Torrance’s personal life, that feels mostly redundant, and he remains a bland archetype character despite Butler’s diligent efforts. In case of Gaspare, he is more or less than your typical killing machine without any interesting personal aspect, and Mike Coulter is seriously wasted as only demanded to look intense and ambivalent.

In case of several other main characters in the story, they are merely plot elements to handle, and that is another disappointment in the film. The passengers and crew members of the airplane are mostly defined by their helpless status, and they are even far less colorful than those stock characters of “Airport” (1970) or “Airplane!” (1980). In addition, the movie pays some attention to the rescue operation led by a former Special Forces officer played by Tony Goldwin, but that feels rather unnecessary while often decreasing the level of the suspense in the film, and Goldwin remains stuck in his thankless supporting part without many things to do except looking very, very, very serious.

In conclusion, “Plane”, directed by Jean-François Richet, is quite dissatisfying for its big failure to entertain us in one way or another, and I wish it went further for more fun and entertainment instead of holding itself too much in its mediocre seriousness. In fact, there are many better B-action flicks out there such as, say, “Snakes on a Plane” (2006), and you may have a much more productive time with any of them.

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