People often ask me what movies they should watch to kill time on a long plane ride. I wouldn’t recommend this particular film for that particular venue, unless you’re a glutton for punishment or tempting fate. That doesn’t mean Plane is a total crash and burn. It’s not. Plane is one of those perfectly fine, sometimes edge-of-your-seat, sometimes cover-your-eyes, high-octane action movies that should appeal to fans of the formulaic Liam Neeson or (in this case) Gerard Butler offerings. Imagine a collision between the Taken and Fallen franchises and you may land on the sub-par yet still engaging Plane.

I’m not a fan of violent movies, but I can generally tolerate the bloodshed when Butler is the one saving the day (e.g. as secret service agent Mike Banning in Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, and Angel Has Fallen; or as Scottish structural engineer Jon Garrity in 2020’s apocalyptic thriller Greenland.) He’s an easy watch, with a Scottish brogue and accessible hero vibe. Those same qualities give Plane a lift.

Here’s the gist: A commercial jet with about 20 people onboard takes off into bad weather (based on a decision by an airline wonk apparently more concerned about saving time and fuel than passenger safety) and gets hit by lightning, knocking out the plane’s electrical system and leaving the pilots flying blind. The captain, Brodie Torrance (Butler) manages to set the plane down– on what turns out to be a war-torn Filipino island filled with dangerous rebels who like to kill and kidnap people. Oops. Much violence ensues, as Torrance and one of his passengers– an accused murderer named Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter)– join forces to rescue kidnapped passengers and crew. Meantime, thousands of miles away, the airline execs and a get-the-job-done crisis manager (Tony Goldwyn) huddle up in the Trailblazer Airlines HQ to figure out what happened to the plane and formulate a response plan.

Plane cruises along at a steady clip, coming in under two hours (yay!).  The story and the characters are a bit thin, but overall, Plane delivers a  superficially satisfying ride.

Plane is rated R for violence and language. It opens Friday, January 13.

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