Sunday, 16 June 2024

‘Plane’ takes off with action; crime drama and comedy on TV


The dog days of January often prove to be the dumping ground for new films, but the death-defying thrills in “Plane” serve as a reminder that Gerard Butler’s action hero could be the saving grace for a rousing B-grade delight.

Working for a third-rate commercial airline, Butler’s Captain Brodie Torrance is stuck with a New Year’s Eve flight from Singapore to Tokyo with barely more than a dozen passengers.

The most unwilling passenger is Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a convicted murderer being transported by an armed FBI agent for extradition back to the United States.

More than anything, the widowed Brodie is eager to join his teenage daughter for the holiday, while his young co-pilot Samuel (Yoson An) is a family man just as anxious to get home.

The rest of the crew, except for flight attendant Bonnie (Daniella Pineda), and the passengers barely register notice. But then, there is the requisite jerk traveler who mostly complains over trifling matters.

Extremely turbulent skies and a lightning strike disable the airliner in the area of the Jolo island cluster of the Philippines, which is treacherous terrain ruled by a rogue militia of violent separatists.

After miraculously landing the plane in a deserted jungle and saving everyone who managed to keep their seatbelts firmly attached, Torrance quickly learns that surviving the landing was just the beginning of their ordeal.

The only person Torrance can count on for help is Louis, as the villainous militia leader Junmar (Evan Dane Taylor) and his thugs kidnap the rest of the crew and passengers.

Back in New York, while airline execs dither over the public relations fallout of losing a plane, corporate troubleshooter Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn) organizes a group of mercenaries for a rescue mission.

Time is of the essence, and thus Brodie and Louis resort to guerilla warfare of their own and serious gunplay is inevitable. The best action sequence, though, is tense hand-to-hand combat when Brodie is ambushed by a guerilla.

The virtue of “Plane” is that it revels in its B-grade action thrills, fully knowing that with Gerard Butler at the helm it delivers the goods for its intended audience. What more could you ask for during the dreary month of January?


For the new procedural drama “Alert: Missing Persons Unit,” the title says it all. Set in the Philadelphia Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit, each episode features a heart-pounding, life-or-death search for, you guessed it, a missing person.

Each episode’s search runs alongside police officers Jason Grant (Scott Caan) and his ex-wife Nikki Batista (Dania Ramirez) in their series-long quest to find out the truth about their long-lost son.

Six years ago, while working overseas, Jason received a call that every parent fears. His son Keith (Graham Verchere) had gone missing. From that moment forward, the lives of Jason, Nikki and their daughter Sydney (Fivel Stewart) were turned upside down.

Throughout the search to find Keith, Jason and Nikki’s marriage deteriorated and they grew apart. Jason moved into private security, while Nikki was promoted with the Philly P.D. to head of the Missing Persons Unit (MPU).

At the MPU, Nikki has been able to do for others what she wasn’t able to do for herself, namely bring a loved one back home. She leads a team of skilled officers, including her current love interest Mike (Ryan Broussard), whom she met when he was assigned to oversee the search for Keith.

Another MPU member is Kemi (Adeola Role), who is proficient in many languages, highly discerning of visual clues, and uses her know-how as a shaman to take a holistic approach to her job.

Forensic anthropologist C (guest star Petey Gibson) is a master of reconstructing the faces of those who have disappeared. The MPU team works to find the missing, abducted or kidnapped, and help reunite them with their loved ones.

When Jason receives a possible proof-of-life photo that Keith is very much alive, he and Nikki will reunite personally and professionally to continue the fight for their son.

Arriving on Thursday, February 16, workplace comedy “Animal Control” stars Joel McHale (“Community”) as Frank, an opinionated, eccentric Animal Control officer who may not have gone to college but is still the most well-read person in the room.

A former cop, Frank tried to expose corruption in his department, but his efforts got him fired, which may explain why he’s so cynical and curmudgeonly. He has almost superhuman ability to understand animals, but humans not so much.

Frank is assigned a new partner, Fred “Shred” Taylor (Michael Rowland), an optimistic rookie Animal Control officer. They both report to their sweet-natured and endearingly awkward boss Emily Price (Vella Lovell).

Amit Patel (Ravi Patel) and Victoria Sands (Grace Palmer) are also partners, though they could not be more opposite. Templeton Dudge (Gerry Dee), an Animal Control officer from a neighboring precinct, has a real chip on his shoulder.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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