Is Plane (2023) Based on a True Story?

‘Plane’ is an action-thriller film that takes us on a turbulent ride with Gerard Butler in the cockpit, playing the role of a commercial pilot, Brodie Torrance. After his aircraft is struck by lightning, Brodie is forced to make an emergency landing in a war zone governed by the heavily-armed rebels of the Jolo islands. Their leader takes the passengers hostage with the intention of collecting large ransoms from their families. Thus, Brodie embarks on a mission to rescue the passengers and get them home safely.

To achieve his mission, Brodie has to count on an accused murderer, Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), whom he’s supposed to transport securely to the FBI. Directed by Jean-François Richet, the high-concept film’s realistic portrayal of the anti-government militia residing in the Jolo cluster of islands in the Philippines makes one wonder whether the movie is based in reality. Well, we did some digging, and this is what we’ve found.

Is Plane a True Story?

No, ‘Plane’ is not based on a true story. The movie is based on an original pitch by novelist Charles Cumming, with eight spy novels under his belt. MadRiver Pictures nabbed the pitch in 2016. The author is quite the catch among movie producers, as his first novel of the ‘Thomas Kell’ trilogy was also bought by Raindog Films. Furthermore, he has written a screenplay for Studio Canal called ‘How to Catch a Russian Spy’.

In 2019, Gerard Butler also became a producer of the film, besides Alan Siegel. The story of the film’s acquisition is interesting, to put it mildly, or as Andreas Wiseman of Deadline Hollywood did, it’s a “case of high-profile Hollywood volleyball.” After being announced in 2016, the movie was acquired by Lionsgate Films in 2019, only to be sold to Solstice Studios in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, Lionsgate reacquired it in 2021 to release it in 2023.

The storyline is much like that of any plane hijack movie, but in reverse, for in this case, the passengers themselves land in the territory of the potential bad guys. So naturally, it induces significant tension as the commercial pilot feels a deep sense of responsibility for getting his passengers safely home. All Brodie knows is that they are on one of the islands of the Jolo cluster, unsure of which one. While the film depicts the exotic Jolo cluster of islands, a remote area in the Philippines, it was actually shot in Puerto Rico, which isn’t all that unfamiliar after all.

Brodie is without a radio but manages to convey this information over a brief phone call with his daughter. He instructs her to immediately get in touch with his co-workers. The rescue team then struggles to find them while they’re running out of time. Brodie’s only source of support in his rescue mission is Louis Gaspare (Colter), who seems to have a lot more to him than what’s apparent. As per Colter, the film is more about character development than action sequences, which definitely seems to be true for his character. To say the least, despite being fictional, the narrative of ‘Plane’ sheds light upon the morals and ethics of heroism that one can certainly aspire to imbibe.

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