by Rob DiCristino
Happy New Year, everyone. It’s officially awards season, the time when Hollywood’s oldest and whitest get together to decide which art deserves praise and which studio wasted millions of dollars trying to convince voters that The Whale isn’t a piece of shit. But we’re not going to talk about any of that today. You know what we’re going to do today? We’re going to celebrate Plane, an action programmer made with just enough love and care to justify top-tier placement in a Redbox Near You, a movie so gleefully unpretentious that it puts the pomp and circumstance of the Golden Globes (which I skipped to attend the Plane screening) to shame. Movies don’t always have to speak on the issues, you know. They don’t always have to challenge intellect, social consciousness, or bladder control. Sometimes — especially during the January doldrums — a movie can just be about a burly Scottsman who flies a plane that goes “whooooosh” through the sky. In fact, I have a pitch for the Daniels: Every Plane, Everywhere, All at Once.
Director Jean-Francois Richet (2005’s Assault on Precinct 13) is no action innovator, but his modest ambitions befit Plane’s Lionsgate-y charm. The initial plane crash — sorry, forced landing; that’s important for later — is diligently staged and feels realistic enough that we never cross over into total science fiction territory. The other passengers and crew are colorful without ever becoming loud caricatures; standouts include a whiny businessman (Joey Slotnick) and a hard-nosed flight attendant (Jurassic World’s Daniella Pineda as Bonnie, who, with all due respect, has real Rob Energy). Back at mission control, airline (and awesome face) owner Paul Ben-Victor manages the crisis, calling in corporate fixer Scarsdale (television’s Tony Goldwyn) and his team of private security forces to recover the assets before the press catches wind of the disaster. It all blends in a nice potpourri of action tropes with just enough humanity to maintain stakes and just enough balls to let Mike Colter beat people to death with a sledgehammer.
Plane comes to theaters on January 13th.