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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Last Plane Out (Blu-ray)
Last Plane Out (Blu-ray)
Kino // PG // May 16, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted June 12, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Written by David Nelson (son of Ozzie and Harriet and brother to Ricky) from a script by none other than Earnest Tidyman, 1983'sLast Plane Out starts Jan-Michael Vincent as a man named Jack Cox (which just so happens to be the name of the film's co-producer!). He's a reporter based in Nicaragua who just so happens to get friendly with the country's president, Anastasio Somoza (Lloyd Battista). They even go jogging together and have many heartfelt conversations. This is while the Sandinista movement is afoot in the area and the threat of communism is on the rise in Central America. Regardless of Cox's friendship with the dictator in charge of the country, he's there to report on the political movement and to get the Sandinistas' side of the story.

At the same time, Jack has a bit of a fling with a wealthy young woman named Maria Cardena (Julie Carmen) who just so happens to have ties to the Sandinistas, but before Cox get involved with all of this, they go on a date where he changes his outfit like four or five times before getting her in the sack. Cox also finds himself having to rush to the rescue of camerawoman Elizabeth Rush (Mary Crosby). As the threat of military action looms and things start to get violent, Cox and a few other reporters find themselves in a bit of a race against time to get on the titular last plane out of the country as things start to very quickly fall apart. The ending is hackneyed and ridiculous.

Last Plane Out might not be the most historically accurate look at the Sandinista movement and it may occasionally get bogged down in the producer's own politics and personal experience in favor of story but judged as a B-movie and a B-movie only it's an entertaining enough movie. Portraying the dictator as the good guy and the revolutionaries as the bad guys (which this movie definitely does) will probably irk some viewers and the movie has a certain Reagan-era propaganda-esque smell to it. However, it is reasonably well-paced and the Florida locations double for Central America well enough that we're never taken out of the film by it. Dennis McCarthy's score is heavy on flutes, which is kind of strange and as such it never feels entirely appropriate to the story or the action and drama that it contains.

So what makes this worth seeing? Well the bizarre politics of the film are occasionally amusing. The real life Jack Cox was reportedly pretty chummy with the real life Anastasio Somoza and even wrote a book about him entitled Nicaragua Betrayed, so you can tell which way the film's bias will sway at any given point. More interesting than that, however is the cast. Busy character actor Lloyd Battista isn't terrible as the dictator in question but he chews a bit of scenery here and there. Really though, he's fine in the part, fun to watch at least. Mary Crosby, probably best known for her stint on TV's Dallas as Kristin Shepard, isn't given that much to do except get into trouble and wait for JMV to save her, but she looks great doing it. Julie Carmen, who has appeared in everything from Fight Night 2 to The Milagro Beanfield War with plenty of TV work done in between film gigs comes out of this fairly unscathed. She plays her part well and she looks great doing it. Even if her character has the goofiest moment in the film (that ending… goodness gracious me) that's not her fault. That brings us to Jan-Michael Vincent. The notoriously troubled actor still had some pretty serious star power behind his name at this point in his career, but it's clear at times that he's under the influence of something (be it drugs or alcohol, he was quite famously a fan of all manner of intoxicants). There are moments where he's pretty good and moments where he seems out of it, but at least he looks good here.

You can't help but draw comparisons between this film and Under Fire, a similarly themed film that starred Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman. Under Fire handles the subject with a bit more subtlety, though interestingly enough it tends to lean left where Last Plane Out leans right. The performances are better. The script is better. The direction is better. The score is better too, it has a lot less flutes in it. But Under Fire is quirky and screwy enough at times. Part ego piece, part car wreck it's perfectly watchable entertainment. Check your brain at the door on the way in.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Code Red presents Last Plane Out on Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that generally looks pretty solid even if there is some mild print damage evident throughout. Overall, the image quality is fine if soft in spots. Detail is decent, texture is fairly strong and color reproduction looks alright if just slightly faded. We get good black levels and natural looking skin tones. There are no issues with any edge enhancement or noise reduction and any compression artifacts that might pop up are minor. All in all, the image here is pretty solid. The packaging notes that this transfer was taken from the only surviving 35mm elements.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD Mono track also sounds fine. Dialogue stays clean and clear while the track has good balance and remains free of any obvious hiss or distortion. The score also has a surprising amount of depth to it for an older single channel mix.

Extras:

Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, a few bonus trailers, menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

It's clear that Last Plane Out was, at least partially, an ego project for its producer but that doesn't mean it isn't an entertaining picture. Depending on your political leanings you may find the film's supposed message a questionable one but judged as a work of entertainment this is a perfectly fun way to kill an hour and a half. The film has a decent mix of action and drama and a few quirky B-movie moments that make it worth checking out, particularly for those with an affinity for Jan-Michael Vincent.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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