Released: 13th January
Seen: 21st May
January tends to be known as a dump month for releases. Basically, a film that is released this month tends to be something that the studios don’t have faith in and throw out quickly and quietly with minimal expectations. There are obviously exceptions to this idea, truly spectacular movies can come out pretty much any time but a January release is usually the spot where films go to die. It takes something kind of special to break this rule and actually make a splash… or you can be mediocre enough in the exact right ways to make back a minuscule budget and be something more than just a quick write-off.
Plane is indeed quite mediocre in every aspect. The story is simple, a pilot named Brodie (Gerard Butler) is on one last flight before a vacation with his family. Of course, at the last minute this flight is told to carry a fugitive, Louis (Mike Colter), and also that the weather is going to be particularly awful. Instead of doing the sensible thing, changing the flight path to avoid the weather issue or just canceling the flight altogether they are ordered by the idiots in charge to just go on as normal and fly above the bad weather. This naturally ends with the plane being struck by lightning and crashing on Jojo island in the Philippines where a bunch of rebels are planning to hold the passengers for ransom and it’s up to Brodie, Louis and a tactical team that’ll eventually turn up to save the day.
Plane is not ever going to get any prizes for being unique or particularly interesting, but it delivers on the promises that it makes. This is a film that promises to be a half-decent action blockbuster (on a shoestring budget) and oh boy does it deliver that in almost record time. There’s no point in wasting a second of the film here, Plane knows that you aren’t interested in much beyond the action scenes and so it doesn’t make you wait that long, the plane is basically crashed by the 15-minute mark and it never really stops from there. If someone isn’t swinging a punch, they’re shooting a gun or trying to desperately salvage the plane in some way.
It’s not exactly complex, Plane feels like a film that was designed using a checklist and just goes through everything that one expects in an action film. There’s no real need for things like characters or witty banter or a fun setting, it’s an action film set in a jungle so therefore it does everything that one expects when they put on an action film set in a jungle. You’d think a title like “PLANE” would be the hint that this is a film working entirely on the absolute basics for the genre, nothing particularly special going on here because if there was then maybe it might’ve actually had a real budget behind it.
Even though Plane is about as basic as could be, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Even though it’s just running through a set of standard tropes it’s doing them well. Each of the action scenes are well shot and engaging enough, there’s some decent dramatic tension that builds throughout and even though it’s a familiar location (if you’ve seen one deserted island, you’ve seen them all) it’s still well laid out and explained so the audience can keep up with everything going on. It’s fundamentally sound, doing everything just well enough that it’s hard to call what’s on-screen bad, but it never leaps up to the levels of great.
Plane is one of those films that’s kind of hard to talk about because it just sits right on the edge of mediocre. It’s not exactly the most memorable film but it’s not really bad enough to resonate that way either. It’s a fine way to spend a few hours enjoying a decent action film that does the job it’s asked to do. It’s not soaring, it’s not crashing, it’s gliding along just bothering no one and doing the bare minimum asked of it.