Cheap thrills for your lizard brain

Gerard Butler. Mike Coulter. airplane.
Photo: Kenneth Rexach/Lionsgate

airplane is a movie for the lizard mind – the part that craves basic sensations. The part that expresses itself in grunts. The part that wants to paw anxiously on the stage screen while muttering “airplane …” That’s good. The highest praise I can pay Gerard Butler’s new action movie is that it lives up to the conceptual purity of its title.

Over the years, Butler has become adept at playing the exceptionally average Joes: each chiseled, gruff, adaptable to extraordinary circumstances that demand thrilling feats of skill and courage. This is the genre that was honored with time in American films. When everyone tried to be Bruce Willis, it was annoying all over, but we are in the present UberA stolen cinematic scene has less use for such gruff heroes. This, of course, adds to our emotionality. These guys have taken on a nostalgic flare, and Butler in particular has become sort of people’s avatar for the way action movies were. When it appears on the screen, you can savor the stale coffee and stir fry. He’s a demoted Secret Service agent (in the movie The White House – The Invasion Olympus has fallen); An estranged father tries to make things right (in the comet disaster saga green land); Newly promoted and not-ready prime-time submarine captain (in the marine action movie The killer hunter). in airplane, It’s Captain Brody Torrance, a middle-aged single father and pilot, who is stuck on a New Year’s Eve road trip from Singapore to Tokyo for the low-rent Trailblazer airline. He lost his fancier spot, we learned, after hitting an abusive passenger.

There are only 14 passengers on this particular flight, reinforcing the sense that Torrance is a man out of step with the times: He could fly the damn plane, but it’s not like anyone wants to get on it. Because the flight has so few passengers, the powers that be in the Trailblazer refuse to allow Torrance to fly around a nasty-looking storm swirling his way, because the extra fuel required would cost too much. So he flies straight into it and — after a harrowing sequence being reminded to never unbuckle during turbulence — is forced to crash-land on an island in the Sulu Archipelago, a lawless stretch of the Philippines run by what co-pilot Torrance (Yosun Ann) calls “separatists and criminals.” As Torrance and the surviving passengers try to figure out how to let the world know where they are, they become targets of a local militia that loves to kidnap aliens and hold them for ransom while threatening to kill them.

A lot of airplane It doesn’t actually happen on an airplane, but there’s little reason to worry. Events on Earth maintains the basic brute pleasures of the initial premise. French director Jean-François Richet made his career out of well-acted and rated action films (he made the stellar 2005 remake of Attack on District 13, Starring Laurence Fishburne and Ethan Hawke, 2008 two-part French realistic crime epic facilitators starring Vincent Cassel) and allows the characters enough shadows to keep things going. We learn that Torrance is a proud Scotsman who once served in the RAF, and we know he can hold his own – although he did hang around a bit after his first kill on the island.

Fortunately, one of the passengers was Louis Gaspard (Mike Coulter), who was extradited to the United States for murder when the plane went down. Torrance finds himself in the rare situation when having an assassin as a companion would come in handy. Coulter, perhaps best known as the star of the Marvel series luke cage, He speaks softly and possesses an understated physique that makes him a nice match for Butler; Gaspare seems like a man who could, at any moment, give you a chuckle or a deathblow. His developing relationship with Torrance is compelling and handled without too much fuss: it’s all sweaty stares, brief exchanges, and the occasional knowing smile between two fat men in a tentative marriage of convenience who grow to respect (and kill in tandem with) each other.

whenever airplane Following Torrance, Gaspare and the other passengers, it has a streamlined confidence that keeps the action and suspense alive. How on earth would these people survive this ordeal? Will Gaspari abandon Torrance and the others? How is anyone going to get off this island with their head still hanging around their neck? The leader of the local militia, the ruthless Dato’ Gunmar (Evan Dan Taylor), does not mention political or ideological goals. He only wants the hostages and the money, and he doesn’t seem shy about making good on his promise to kill the prisoners – or his own men – if he doesn’t get what he wants. Things get even messier when the movie shifts to Trailblazer headquarters in New York, where a crisis-control expert (Tony Goldwyn) is conducting an elaborate rescue mission involving a heavily armed group of international mercenaries. Such developments feel like they belong in a bigger movie, a broader movie; a larger, more well-known staff; and brighter, Bruckheimerian production values. Not in the so-called corrupt act airplane.

It’s a good thing, then, that Richie understands that whatever thrills this movie can provide will be cheap. He stuffs the picture full — the one-shot whacks, the decapitations, the stabbings, the bashing of heads with gigantic hammers. The bad guys are so blocked by powerful machine guns that their corpses bounce off the cars. There is at least one amazing case of a vehicular assault.

It’s okay to enjoy these things when you end up with a sincere desire to be entertained. The violence is deep and delivered with enough authenticity to make you shudder. However, the context is unrealistic enough that you don’t have to think too hard about it. You weren’t supposed to think anyway. airplane.

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