Posted on January 11, 2023 at 3:21 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R language and violence
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Constant, intense peril and violence, knives, sledgehammer, military guns and bazookas, fistfights,
Copyright Lionsgate 2023

When an action movie is simply called “Plane,” you know they’re going to get right to it and keep going. Stepping into the spot usually reserved for Liam Neeson each January, with a tiny touch of Stephen Segal in “Under Siege” and Nicolas Cage in “Con Air.” Gerard Butler plays Brodie Torrance, a Scottish commercial pilot whose New Year’s Eve flight from Singapore to Tokyo runs into trouble when the plane is hit by lightning. He has to make an emergency landing on island of the Philippines that is ruled by murderous outlaws. One of the passengers (Mike Colter as Louis) is in handcuffs because he is being extradited to be tried for murder.

If this sounds a bit like a video game, where our hero(es) have to navigate one dire threat after another, you’ve got that right. There is a quick and efficient introduction to let us know that Brodie is a loving and devoted but not always present father of a beautiful college student daughter he hopes to be with to see in the new year. We see him courteous and professional as he meets his flight crew and talks to the airport official who assures him the storm ahead will not be a problem. We also get to see the prisoner, escorted by a law enforcement officer. It won’t take long (per “Con Air”) for Brodie and Louis, the two people on the island with military training, to team up. Colter is terrific as a guy who has nothing to prove to anyone but knows when it is time to deliver.

And then things start to go wrong. It gets very bumpy. The radar, the altimeter, and the navigation system go out. We know things are pretty bad when they pull out a paper map to try to figure out where they are. We’re vividly reminded that it’s just a tin can in the sky and let’s just say you will not be seeing this movie as an option when you scroll past the offerings on your next plane ride. Or if by some mistake you do, wait to see it until you are on solid ground again.

The relief of landing is short-lived. They have no way of letting anyone know where they are. And they are soon to discover that the occupants of the island are ruthless murderers who may keep them alive for ransom, but only briefly.

The film zips and occasionally lurches from one action scene to another, all capably staged if not especially memorable. The bad guys are one-dimensional, but no one really wants or expects them to be more than a believably threatening menace. Occasionally, per “Under Seige,” we see what is going on at the corporate headquarters, as the CEO (Joey Slotnick) and his whatever-it-takes “crises manager” (a savvy Tony Goldwyn) make whatever decisions they can.

Butler, who also produced, knows what we’re looking for in an action movie, not just the punches and explosions, but the ingenuity and the satisfaction of seeing how and by whom the bad guys get dispatched. This many not show us anything new, but it shows us that what isn’t new can still be reliably entertaining.

Parents should know that this movie has non-stop action, some with graphic visuals, with many characters injured and killed. There are knives, military-style weapons, and fistfights. There is also non-stop use of the f-word.

Family discussion: What made Brodie decide to trust Louis? If you were Sinclair, would you have hired Brodie? What will the airline do differently?

If you like this, try: “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Angel Has Fallen,” and the “Taken” movies, and, to see Butler in a non-action role in a lovely drama, “Dear Frankie” or as voice talent in the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies

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