Money Plane sees a far-fetched story about a group of thieves pulling off the ultimate heist by robbing a futuristic airborne casino to pay back a $40 million debt and saving their leader’s family in the process.
Out now on video-on-demand services like Amazon, Adam Copeland (aka WWE’s Edge) plays Jack Reese, a high-level thief attempting to leave the business after one last score. It sounds easy enough for a master criminal, but as we find out a few minutes into the film (a prologue, if you will), the ‘one last job’ doesn’t go as planned and it leaves Reese in debt to Darius Emmanuel Grouch (Kelsey Grammer), a notorious crime boss nicknamed ‘The Rumble.’
With a movie and premise like Money Plane, you should go into it expecting an over-the-top and (as Copeland’s Reese puts it) “bat-shit crazy” plot, similar to Snakes On A Plane but not as crazy as the Sharknado films. It’s still a heist film and the idea that there’s a top-secret flying casino filled with gangsters is absurd, but not as much as some of the names and character stereotypes.
Darius “The Rumble” Grouch just seems like a mafia trope at times, as does Matthew Lawrence’s Texan character, The Cowboy. The latter does provide a great ‘punchline’ to a gag in the film, but the rootin’-tootin’ Cowboy is just one of a few typecasted roles that seem out of place in a ‘serious’ movie. Andrew Lawrence, the youngest of the acting brothers, directs the film and also appears on-screen as part of Copeland’s crew and Joey Lawrence (Whoa!) also sees some screen time as a game host or concierge, drawing some comparisons to Lance Reddick’s Charon in the John Wick series. The cast is rounded out with some big names like Denise Richards, who plays Reese’s wife, and Thomas Jane, who ends coming into play later in the film (and really should have been used much more than he was).
Money Plane’s biggest problem is that it struggles to find its identity and switches things up too much to maintain that balance. It starts as a serious heist film and flip-flops between campy action flick and high-tech thriller as it progresses. It’s well cast, but every character outside of Reese and his team vary from threatening villain to outright goofy as the film moves on. It doesn’t help that the score is also very cheesy at times, some tracks sounding like it’s stock and others that are very obviously a rip-off of some other popular song. There’s one scene, in particular, that was very awkward as it tried to add a “cool” vibe in the form of a very obvious rip-off of New Order’s “Blue Monday” during a poker game. There are a few other instances where this happens and it really takes away from some otherwise great action scenes and fights.
You fucked up my terra cotta! This stuff is pourous, don’t you get that?
Despite the issues with the score and theme, Money Plane is still a fun watch if you don’t take it too seriously. The titular “futuristic airborne casino” isn’t very futuristic as much as it is an exclusive club for the criminal underworld, but there are some good one-liners, fight scenes and Copeland is well-cast as the straight man to all of the wackiness going on around him, with Jane also providing some strong scenes.
One of the first things Money Plane lays out is the rules of a job well done and its three critical parts.
- Have a great team
- Have a proper diversion
- Have a backup plan
All three come into play towards the end of the film and based on those points, Money Plane is successful. Reese and his team are likable and competent, and the diversion and back-up provide a couple of good twists at the end of the film.
It has a solid resolution—but it also leaves a little room for a sequel if the studio was planning that. With that in mind, Money Plane could work if it was more balanced. Whether it’s zany or serious, it should lean more towards one than the other and not bounce back and forth throughout the film. Money Plane has its faults, but it’s still an entertaining movie with a solid cast and some good gags and fight scenes.