A team of thieves, a botched heist, and a high-stakes mission of life-and-death are what awaits in Money Plane, the second feature film from actor and filmmaker Andrew Lawrence.
Best known for his fan-famed wrestling moniker, actor Aaron Copeland has found himself a niche in the independent scene following credits like his feature film debut in 2000 with Highlander: Endgame, and History channel series, Vikings.
Copeland leads from a script by Tim Schaaf, and Lawrence who also stars, in addition to Katrina Norman and Patrick Lamont Jr., as the film propels into action as Jack (Copeland) and his team of professional thieves try to make their way into a private facility to steal a 40 million dollar painting, only to realize it’s a trap.
Unfortunately, their narrow escape proves costly for Jack, once a gambling addict who lost it all, in the eyes of his employer, otherwise known as The Rumble (Kelsey Grammer), a rich and powerful criminal with a god complex, whose influence embroils Jack in a make-or-break ultimatum in order to protect his family: Infiltrate an elusive, off-the-radar midair casino, and relieve it of its billions in cash and crytocurrency without getting caught.
The poster doesn’t really do the film justice, but where some independent, low-budget actioners tend to flounder, Lawrence’s sophomore effort here does a fine job of getting a pace going from start to finish. Copeland doesn’t have much space to fill in Money Plane as a leading man here, but he provenly plays the part with enough scope to suit the story.
He’s certainly got the acting chops to show for it, and he plays especially well opposite actor Thomas Jane in a supporting capacity, as well as Grammer whose menacing portrayal as The Rumble isn’t so much a far cry from some of his other roles in similar capacity. Beyond that, he’s makes it work and he’s an absolute blast to watch on screen chewing up scenery with any protagonist.
The film’s centerpiece is the plane, host to some of the world’s worst and most deplorable among the criminal elite, betting on sick and twisted games from cards to Russian roulette, to seeing how long a man can last in a precarious situation via live feed until he meets his maker. The kills are brutal and bloody, and it certainly bares a few echoes from The Condemned, sans its plot trajectory.
Norman tackles the role of Isabella, whose hands-on approach is a worthwhile treat for the film’s action fan service in terms of blood and gore. Lamont Jr.’s portrayal of Trey is totally fish-out-of-water when he’s pulled away from a computer screen and into the field. His character is also the one that bears the onus of dealing with the casino’s “themed” games, which does plenty to help get behind our protagonists.
Lawrence himself puts in some screentime for the role of team member, Iggy, relegated to managing communications on the ground. To the benefit of the film, Iggy’s also a trained operative which definitely helps keep the pace of things going in the third act. The film also sees Lawrence joined by his two former 90s TV star siblings: Joey Lawrence as the plane’s concierge, and Matthew Lawrence in a cameo as a one of the plane’s clients.
Money Plane takes off in friendly-enough air space to make up for some of its off-beat humor with some seriousness to genuine gravitas. At an hour and twenty-two minutes, as far as potboiler action films go, you could do worse, but guaranteed your time spent for the film’s duration will grant you a safe landing.