Plot: As a flight leaves Colombia, most of the passengers are relieved to head home, some just want to escape the drama of a family vacation, some are just homesick, and others miss the food and water of home. So the journey should be a relaxing one, but of course, things rarely go as smoothly as people hope. One passenger is plagued with what he thinks are intestinal issues, despite a doctor’s advice otherwise, which turns out to be an infestation of bullet ants. Soon the man is swarmed with the vicious ants and is killed by the toxic bites, but when the crew tries to radio for assistance, they’re not taken seriously whatsoever. An entomologist Dr. Ross (Jessalyn Gilsig) happens to be on board and she lends her expertise, but once the threat of these ants is made clear, no one will allow the plane to land. Can a solution be tapped in time to save the passengers or will the plane be overtaken by bullet ants?
Entertainment Value: This is a movie that delivers on its outlandish title, as the main narrative does indeed center on a massive infestation of toxic ants that overrun a commercial flight. And while there’s the requisite family drama, romance, and other plot distractions, the focus is often on the ant problem and we’re treated to a number of ant attacks here. This was a Lifetime movie, which surprised me a little, but there is a main thread about a mother trying to connect with her daughter, even as she battles ants, so it makes sense. The story is of course beyond ridiculous, but once you’ve sat down to watch a movie about toxic ants hijacking a plane, I have to think basic logic isn’t what you’re hoping to witness. So no, none of the movie makes a lick of sense, but it is fun to watch and not just for fans of when animals attack cinema, but those who appreciate disaster movies as well. Ants on a Plane digs up all kinds of disaster movie cliches and dusts them off, including the hilariously diverse passenger ensemble, most of whom fit neatly into one stereotype or another. The pace is fine, if a little slow when the drama overtakes the ants, but if you like awkward melodrama, there are some light traces of that here, though nothing on par with Lifetime’s thriller output. So I have to think if you see the title of Ants on a Plane and decide this is a movie you want to watch, this one gives you exactly what it promises.
These kind of made for television b movies often have some known names attached and this one is no exception, with a couple of famous faces involved. Antionio Sabato, Jr. provides the main star power and while perhaps Jessalyn Gilsig isn’t as well known, I think most movies fans would recognize her right off. Sabato, Jr. is fine, though I hoped he’d have a more kinetic, action oriented role in the movie, instead he is more of the romantic interest or sidekick. But that works, as having Gilsig as the lead is a good choice, as it mixes up the usual formula and gives not only a strong female character, but one who uses science to solve the problem. Much more interesting than a random action hero style savior, or at least I think so. Gilsig turns in a solid effort and while she is spread between several side threads, she handles it all with ease and proves herself as a more than capable anchor. The cast also includes Daniel Bacon, Matthew Harrison, and Emily Tennant.