Random Thoughts I Had While Watching 'Plane'
Plane Movie Fun. Plane Movie Good.
Below are a series of random thoughts I had while watching the action movie Plane. Plane is a movie in which Gerard Butler plays Brodie Torrence, a captain whose *ahem* plane lands on one of the Philippine islands that happens to be a lawless society run by separatists and rebels. He must enlist in the help of ex-con Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter) to get his passengers and crew back and GTFO this island.
Onto the random thoughts:
I’m loving Brodie Torrence as a name for Gerard Butler’s character. It fits in with the rest of Gerard Butler character names as vaguely masculine sounding. Other recent Butler names: Will Spann, Bob Viddick, John Garrity, Mike Banning, Jake Lawson. These are decent, upstanding, possibly even noble male individuals and you can tell just from the names.
Sitcoms like 30 Rock and Seinfeld often featured excellent fictional movie titles like Death Blow and The Rural Juror. But what they couldn’t have imagined is an intellectually bereft society in which movies are so distilled down to their essential elements that you can simply title a movie Plane and release it into thousands of theaters.
Plane, as a title, is actually pretty appropriate. It speaks to the lizard brain part of us that just wants to see good guys do some badass shit, bad guys get their comeuppance, and a thorough demonstration of the might and precision of the American (ex-)military. On these fronts, it actually succeeds admirably. (See also: Top Gun: Maverick)
I thought a lot about Gerard Butler’s face during this movie. There’s something about it that’s fascinating. Butler is an actor who has portrayed hard boiled badasses but most of the time when I see him in a movie he looks like there’s a part of him that’s tortured and in agony (see the above two screenshots). He’s a reluctant hero and his characters are always physically pushing themselves beyond their natural boundaries. This is part of what I think makes him such an appealing figure: we love our heroes but we don’t want heroism to come too easy to them.
The titular plane belongs to a fictional airline called Trailblazer. There’s a scene early on where a mid-level manager at Trailblazer authorizes Brodie Torrence to fly into an oncoming storm in order to save money on fuel. Later, when the plane goes down, Trailblazer brings in a fixer named Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn) to un-fuck the situation. Scarsdale berates the Trailblazer employee for sending the *deep breath* plane into certain danger and asks how much money was saved with this foolhardy flight path, to which the man responds, “$12,000.” Scarsdale then remarks that this is how much the tip will cost for this project. Sure, they might’ve saved $12,000 but temporary cost savings often lead to incredibly costly debacles. Plane is deeply anti-late-stage-capitalism, is what I’m trying to say.
I’m pretty sensitive to depictions of Asians in films and I don’t know that Plane does a great job with it. In 2021, a study of 1,300 movies showed that when a movie had an Asian or Pacific Islander character, around 25% of the time they died violently. There are many Asian characters in Plane (which is good) but about 90% of them die violently (which is not great). And overall, it’s sad to think that people will probably watch this and come away with a sense of the Philippines as a chaotic or lawless society, evoking propagandistic Yellow Peril imagery. But I will say this to the film’s credit: Yes, the vast majority of people in this movie who die horribly are Asians (AKA the evil Filipinos who take Brodie’s *cough* plane hostage). But the movie goes out of its way to put Asian characters everywhere. Some of the passengers are Asian. One of the mercenaries who’s sent to save Brodie’s passengers is Asian (and a total badass). Heck, even Brodie Torrence’s co-pilot is an Asian guy. So…progress? I guess? (Not really)
I’m never flying Spirit Airlines again.
Did you see Plane? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments.
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