Plane (Christian Movie Review)
About The Movie
Plane is exactly what you’d expect of a Gerard Butler-led action movie released in early January. Whatever its story’s faults, Plane delivers exactly what it promises: mindless action with satisfying tension and thrills. It’s a decent—if unspectacular—film, as long as expectations remain at a low altitude.
Despite its simplistic title, the movie could have alternatively been called Island or Crashed. After an exciting crash scene at the beginning of the movie, survivors are stranded on an unknown island occupied by separatist militia groups. When the bad guys kidnap the passengers, pilot Brodie (Gerard Butler) and Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a mysterious fugitive, must rescue them (cue the action).
The movie is a throwback to the Sly and Arnold action flicks of earlier decades, attempting to balance a silly story with a gritty, mature tone. Though successful at times, these two aims don’t always mesh. The heavy profanity and violence are somewhat at odds with the rest of the movie, which seems to be a more accessible survival thriller movie. The tone wavers between a PG-13 and R rating, resulting in a final product that is either a PG-13 film with unnecessarily mature content or else an R-rated film that fails to fully commit to its gritty tone.
That the film works at all is a testament to Butler. His character is given very little backstory beyond the fact that he is a widower, a father, and a pilot. There isn’t much of a character arc, but he has enough charisma to carry the film. Besides his impressive physicality, he also emotes vulnerability, pushing himself to the brink to keep his passengers safe. Gaspare, a passenger being transported on charges of homicide, keeps audiences guessing about his true motives, although his story has an unsatisfying resolution. The remainder of the crew and passengers are caricatures (the rude businessman, the young girls addicted to their phones, etc.), with only Daniella Pineda, head flight attendant, standing out.
The movie unfolds as a series of constantly changing set pieces or episodic action scenes. It starts as an exciting plane crash movie but becomes an island survival story, then a hostage-rescue movie, then a full-blown action film, and ends with a bookended plane set piece. With a relatively short runtime and a varied narrative, the movie manages not to stretch its thin story too far.
In the end, Plane never soars very high, but it doesn’t crash and burn either. It seems designed to provide enough cinematic thrills to satiate moviegoers until the bigger, more anticipated films start rolling out in a few months. If R-rated content isn’t a deterrent, then viewers looking for diverting entertainment—and little else—may find it here.
Engage The Film
Plane doesn’t have much philosophical underpinning to probe or explore, but one of its central themes is the nature of heroism. As with many survival stories, the dangerous situation sets the stage for heroism. Pilot Brodie is an ordinary man pushed to extreme limits for the sake of his passengers. Through navigating a crash landing, keeping them safe, and putting himself in danger to rescue them, his character is more than just an “action hero.” He demonstrates a heroic heart, even toward the passengers who treat him poorly (John 15:13, Matthew 5:43-46). Other members of the flight crew, such as Brodie’s co-pilot, and also lead flight attendant, showcase other modes of heroism. They lack Brodie’s physicality, but they play an important role in keeping the passengers safe.
Redemption is another theme, though it is not pursued with much depth. The backstory of Gaspare’s character is never fully revealed, but the hostage rescue is treated as a chance for him to find redemption. When explaining his willingness to help Brodie, he shrugs and says, “They say redemption can be found in the most unusual places.” Although, by the end of the film, it is not necessarily self-evident whether shooting up a bunch of bad guys on a remote island is truly redemption for whatever he did in his past. He is an interesting character, but viewers may be disappointed by how shallowly the film probes this important theme.