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‘Plane’ Is a Bumpy Ride
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‘Plane’ Is a Bumpy Ride

A review of the latest Gerard Butler thriller.

It’s early, but Plane is one of the silliest films to come out in 2023. It’s an uninspired, hackneyed, slightly preposterous action thriller about a plane crash that ends with a plane running over a  rocket launcher-wielding terrorist. I recommend you see the movie on the biggest screen available.

Gerard Butler stars as Brodie Torrance, a commercial pilot on his way to spend New Years Eve with his daughter in Hawaii. To get there, he flies from Singapore to Tokyo to Honolulu. He doesn’t complete the first leg of that journey, after being ordered to fly directly through a strong storm in the South China Sea. Despite assurances by his ground team that the weather will clear up long before the plane reaches the area, it does not. After being thrown around and having two of his passengers die in what could serve as a PSA about the importance of listening to the seatbelt sign, Torrance manages to barely land the plane on a terrorist-controlled island in the south Pacific. The airline races to find the passengers and crew while Torrance contends with the local terrorists as he tries to find a way to transmit his location to anyone who can help. Complicating matters: among Torrance’s passengers is Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a murderer who was being extradited from Singapore and whose handler dies in the crash.

It is useless to talk about the unnecessary, half-baked subplot of Torrance’s difficult relationship with his daughter or Gaspare’s utter lack of character development or any of the other silly and trite aspects of the film. This film knows it’s a B-movie, and isn’t trying to be anything more than that. It’s just trying to thrill the viewer—and it succeeds. From the plane crash to Torrance traipsing through the forest to watching the terrorists capture (and in some cases kill in graphic fashion) the passengers, everything about Plane is stressful to watch. Whatever shortcomings the film has are balanced out by the sheer gripping tension of the story.

Butler may be the technical star of Plane, but Colter steals the show. Colter is a severely underrated actor, who has had several would-be star turns that didn’t pan out, most prominently as Luke Cage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is given little to work with in Plane as a convict who ran away from America and joined the French Legion. Yet he manages to rise above the weak script to show what anyone who has seen Luke Cage already knew: Colter should be an action star. He brings charisma and darkness to what should be a two-dimensional role, as Gaspare teams up with Torrance to save the passengers and take out a terrorist cell.
Plane isn’t going to win any awards, and it isn’t going to be a movie that’s rewatched very often. But if you’re looking for a solid hour and a half of action escapism, Plane sticks the landing.

Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.