There is something to be said for a movie that knows what it is and executes that well. It’s not pretentious or trying to be high art- just a simple genre film. Such is the case with the new action shlockfest, Plane, starring Gerard Butler directed by Jean-Francois Richet. Fans of the show 24 (which I am) will recognize much of Jack Bauer in Butler’s character Brodie Torrance (he’s even got a suitable tough guy name). You can also see elements of MacGyver and Die Hard in the film. It’s your classic innocent but tough guy put in an untenable situation where he saves the day fighting bad guys (and nature).

In the film, Butler plays a pilot of the plane from the title and after flying into a storm from Singapore they are forced to crash in a militia controlled island in the Philippines. The crash landing makes up the first act of the film and I thought it was very well executed. Maybe it’s because I travel quite a bit and always get nervous when we reach a bumpy section but seeing all the steps before they have to brace for impact was very effective.

Once  they land everything becomes a lot more generic. Mike Colter plays a fugitive ex-military guy who helps Butler track down help and then confronts the terrorists (who hold the passengers hostage.) His role is very basic but it worked for the movie I was watching. The terrorists are also one note evil bad guys we’ve seen a million times. It is true there are islands in the Philippines run by Muslim rebels called The Moro Islamic Liberation Front but there is no attempt in this film to humanize them or show their point of view. I didn’t really need that (I’m fine with just bad guys being bad guys) but it can be awkward when minority groups are only presented one way in a film or genre. If people are offended by that choice I wouldn’t blame them.

As an action film, Plane is less compelling when it is grounded but it is still entertaining with servicable action and likable performances from Butler and Colter. Again, this is not high art. It’s completely predictable and obvious but sometimes I enjoy a slickly made action film and this fills that need. It’s also only 107 minutes which is refreshing in this era of bloated action and superhero movies.

If you watch the trailer for Plane and it looks like fun than I think you will enjoy it. Let’s just say this film comes in for a solid landing.

6 out of 10

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