Thursday, November 18, 2010

PASSENGER 57 (1992) - "Always bet on black."


In the early 1990s, action movies were close to the pinnacle of perfection. They had everything a man movie needs: absurd plots, half-hour long gunfights, ultra-cool synth soundtracks, etc. There was one thing missing though. The decade that gave us Rambo, John McClane, every Arnold role, and all those generic Van Damme movies had few notable black dudes starring in their own action flicks. In stepped Wesley Snipes to save the day for Hollywood, and for a few years, he almost A-list material. Today, poor old Wesley might be locked up in prison for not paying taxes, but in 1992 he was legit. And it was this movie right here that kicked off an eventful career of ass-kicking, drop-kicking,  face-punching and tax evasion  - Passenger 57.

Only Wesley Snipes can rock this outfit. Don't even try it, man.
Passenger 57 starts off with Charles Rane (Bruce Payne), a master terrorist (is there any other kind?) about to get some plastic surgery to avoid capture by the FBI. Right before the surgeon makes the first cut, Rane realizes he's being set up by the feds and slices the good doc's throat with a scalpel and tries to make a run for it. I said try, because he ends up getting run over by a cop car and taken into custody.

While Rane's ass is sent to jail, we see ex-cop John Cutter (Snipes) working at an airline, teaching security lessons. After a rough day at the job, his executive big shot friend Sly Delvecchio (Tom Sizemore, before he started doing loads of coke)  offers him a job at his company, which Cutter eventually accepts. In the meantime, we see that the FBI, in all its infinite wisdom, has decided to transport Rane, the world's most dangerous man, aboard  a regular commercial flight, with only two cops to escort him. Terrorists: 1, Government Planners, 0.
Sitting next to a murderer is only slightly worse than sitting next to that kid that keeps kicking your seat.
Of course, it wouldn't be much of an action movie if Rane just killed both guards and flew off to Tahiti to drink tequila shots on the beach with supermodels for the rest off his life. No sir. By a stroke of luck, John Cutter happens to be on the very same flight.

Rane is such an evil, criminal mastermind of great skill that he has managed to put his own people aboard the plane. In a matter of minutes once the plane takes off, his guys kill both FBI agents and take over the plane. It's then up to Cutter to take back the plane and capture Rane, with only a stewardess to help him out. In the course of the movie, Cutter will jump out of a moving plane, punch a French guy in the throat, hit that French ponytail wearing bastard with a golf club in the balls, ride a motorcycle dangerously (why of course), beat up some redneck cops, and deliver some classic one-liners.

Tax problems already, Wesley?

I watched Passenger 57 with my dad as a kid, and at the time we thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Since I was about 8 or 9, anything rated R was just about as close to heaven on earth as it got. My dad and I watched the movie again this week for nostalgia's sake, and fun was had by all. The movie has aged pretty well, except for the soundtrack, which is just as cheesy and lame as it was back in the 90s. To be fair though, most movies from this decade suffer from the same thing, so it's not really that much of a drawback. Snipes does a believable job, and though he won't win any Oscars for his work, he's entertaining and he's easy to root for. Bruce Payne tries a bit too hard as the English-accented terrorist, and he isn't a particularly memorable villain.

Overall, not a bad movie - just what you'd expect from the typical 90s action/thriller mix. Good for a watch if you've never seen it, or if you have a massive, unexplained celebrity crush on Wesley Snipes and his questionable clothing choices during this decade.


TL;DR - It's like Die Hard. On an airplane. And the good guy is black. - 6/10

24 comments:

  1. Ahhh, nothing like good ol family 90's racism.

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  2. Ohhh I remember this movie but I'd rather forget it...lol

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  3. Cool story, bro!
    Following your blog

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  4. Gonna check this movie out bro. Thanks.

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  5. looks pretty fantastic will have to check this movie out. Wesley snipes is crazy good. Darkness!

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  6. nice. following your post every day

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  7. wesley snipes was cool 90s man. this movie of course is classic. good post.

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  8. seems good, ill look for it next time i hit the library or something

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  9. "Interesting story - in prison he was prisoner 57"


    -Family Guy

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  10. I have a massive, unexplained celebrity crush on Wesley Snipes and his questionable clothing choices during this decade.

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  11. Wesley is great. And I agree with him on the IRS.

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  12. He's like a non-stereotyped Will Smith, I like him.

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  13. i miss plane-based action movies. after 9/11, they kinda changed tone.

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  14. Did you notice Stevie Wonder wrote the closing song? I've seen worse fashion crimes. I thought Bruce Payne did a very fine job as the chief villain. His henchman were scary too. Wesley Snipes does a fine job - with his martial arts skills and his zingers.

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