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Plane Filmstill

Plane ©2023 LEONINE Studios | Kenneth Rexach

The Philippines are known in Germany primarily as a fantastic travel destination with incredible flora and fauna. Time and again, the archipelagos in south-east Asia are also visited by filmmakers to use the striking landscapes for their works. But not everything is as beautiful as the pictures show. ONODA already gave us an impression of the terrible impact of the Second World War there, too. Unfortunately, there are also several Islamist terrorist organisations in the population, which consists of 90% Christians and 5% Muslims. For example, the Abu Sayyaf (in German “Schwertkämpfer” – several spellings possible) is a splinter group that continues to cause fear and terror, especially on the islands of Jolo, Basilan and Mindanao. Several German citizens were kidnapped by them in the past decade and some were even executed after ransom negotiations failed.

This is what it is all about

Aeroplane captain Brodie Torrance is very much looking forward to his meeting with his daughter. But before that, he has to ferry a passenger plane back home. Since the airline wants to save money, he is asked to fly through the middle of a stormy area. A little bumpy, it all seems to go wonderfully well until a lightning strike paralyses the entire on-board electronics and a crash becomes unavoidable. Brodie hardly sees a chance for a happy outcome to this incident and yet, under the most adverse conditions, he somehow manages to get the machine on the ground with only minor losses. Disoriented, a new problem soon reveals itself: they have landed in the middle of separatist territory, where not even the Philippine police dare to take action. A fight for survival begins. But can a simple pilot save himself and his passengers?

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‘Ah, another Gerard Butler film. We already know what to expect…’ That’s probably how many people will feel when they see the poster and title of this work. But in fact there is more beneath the surface than meets the eye. With PLANE, screenwriter Charles Cumming tells a mix of realistic events, hardly worth mentioning 0815 action as well as a mind game based on personal experiences. The story was written during a holiday in Egypt, during which several attacks and kidnappings took place in the country at the same time. These events made him wonder what would have happened if his holiday plane had been hijacked by terrorists. After the production team exerted influence, the plot was eventually moved to the Philippine island of Jolo and the opening storyline was restructured somewhat.

Plane Filmstill

Plane ©2023 LEONINE Studios | Kenneth Rexach

The result is a film that has a surprising amount of realism and sensible decisions and thus stands in contrast to many absurd action B-movies by the protagonist Gerard Butler. In CHASE he already proved that a moment of sensible decisions can be extremely refreshing, even if they only lasted for the first 20 minutes. And even if PLANE can still be broken down to the genre of survival action and does not reinvent it, it is clear that the entire team has made an effort to tell a much more reduced story and to distance themselves from the usual Bayesian explosion frenzy. In a still tolerable 108 minutes of play, PUBLIC ENEMY director Jean-Franҫois Richet relies on predominantly authentic performances. The crash sequence from the aeroplane cockpit, in particular, is quite convincing, as it is not just dealt with in a few seconds and at least gives the impression that both actors really know what they are doing.

A little better everywhere

PLANE thus splits into two essential parts: on the one hand, a plane crash, which is repeatedly provided with unmistakable criticism of economic and thus not logical decisions, and on the other hand, a fight for survival in separatist territory, which would be quite possible in a similar form and thus mutates into a shocking daydream. While the first part is only unpleasantly conspicuous by some nonsensical cuts and thus repeatedly presents small annoyances that would not have been necessary, the abduction phase is remembered above all for several time and plot jumps, which on the one hand omit many silly narratives that would otherwise be usual and on the other hand throw certain story fragments in front of the audience in “eat or die” style. In addition, there are repeated cuts to a crisis team that is supposed to coordinate rescue measures. This is presented as not unimportant, but in retrospect could have been cut out completely.

Plane Filmstill

Plane ©2023 LEONINE Studios | Kenneth Rexach

There are only very few real action sequences, which then again offer a decent degree of brutality and do without the big fireworks. For some artistic merit, we even get a short one-shot sequence in which Gerard Butler duels an enemy attacker for about two minutes and presents an actually convincing fighting performance. Apart from that, however, the acting of all those involved remains sobering as usual. Finally, however, it should be mentioned that even the unspeakable punchlines that are often fired off in the quiet phases of such productions have been largely dispensed with in order to maintain a certain seriousness.

Stilisierter Negativfilm mit roter Ziffer 6Conclusion

It is not at all easy to classify PLANE properly, since on the one hand it brings along a lot of expectable B-movie character and on the other hand it tries again and again to rise above itself and even to work a certain relevance into the plot, which is hardly to be expected of it at the beginning. Basically, everything is just a bit better than usual: Gerard Butler tries a bit harder; the camera tries to offer a bit more variety, the editing tries to cut out a bit more nonsensical content, the story tries to be a bit more authentic and closer to reality and the action is just a bit more reduced and thus much more acceptable. Will the film nevertheless be forgotten in a year’s time? Probably so.

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