Historically, January is a month defined by two types of releases: prestigious Oscar contenders getting a wide release and trashy films the studio has little confidence in. But sometimes, the films in that latter category end up being fun B movies. Such is the case for the new thriller Plane.
Gerard Butler plays Brodie, a pilot on board a sparsely populated plane damaged by a lightning strike over the Pacific. The plane must crash land on a Philippines island controlled by ruthless separatists. Brodie and company end up relying on a fellow passenger, the mysterious convict Gaspare (Mike Colter) to help them survive the jungle and the rebels.
Viewers never look to a film like Plane to be a documentary-style depiction of reality. But movies like Plane need to at least have characters who behave in ways that are still plausible within the movie's reality. And Plane does that. It's at its best in its first half when Butler and his crew make their initial decisions and assessment of the situation (there's also a darkly funny scene where Butler ends up talking to the airline's customer service hotline). It peters out a little bit as gun battles with the militants become more frequent in the second half.
But ultimately, Plane succeeds in its goal of entertaining the audience, even if it does borrow heavily from films ranging from Captain Phillips to Assault on Precinct 13. Butler and Colter make for good leads, and Tony Goldwyn (the villain from Ghost) also elicits some chuckles as a no-nonsense airline official working to locate the crashed plane. Plus, the film's chief villain is given a memorably nasty comeuppance during the finale.