A hearty welcome to all! I’ve got a bit of advice for you movie lovers today: always bet on Burl! Ha ha! Yes, I’m reviewing 90s action today, as I have done so often, and today’s 90s action offering is one of the quintessential early-90s actionstravaganzas! It is not, I hasten to add, one of the best of them, but if on one starry night it happens to be all you’ve got, then it’ll do until one of the best comes along! The picture in question is, naturally, the Snipes-on-a-plane picture Passenger 57!
Of course this is not the only time Wesley has had trouble in the air - you'll recall how, two years after this picture, he hit the silk to fight parachute criminals in Drop Zone! In the case of Passenger 57, he’s John Cutter, some kind of security expert who tutors airlines on how to acquiesce completely to hijackers and their demands! Of course, ha ha, he’s the best there is, and we have his buddy Tom Sizemore, whom we may recall from The Relic, there to remind us of this every few minutes! Ha ha, the Sizemore character’s two defining characteristics are his hounddog admiration of John Cutter and his mild fear of flying in helicopters!
Anyway, at the beginning of the picture the world’s most deadly airplane hijacker, played by Bruce Payne from The Keep in a way that’s meant to recall Alan Rickman in Die Hard, is captured just as he’s trying to change his face, and of course the authorities decide this nefarious character must be taken by commercial air carrier across the country to California! Double of course, John Cutter is on this very same flight, on his way to take a job with the airline run by Bruce Greenwood from The Malibu Bikini Shop; and triple of course the hijack terrorist has a plan for violent escape that includes several Euroslimes like himself, a pretty lady masquerading as a stewardess, and a sadistic glasses nerd, which was a common 80s-90s henchman archetype! On Snipes's side there is a helpful flight attendant who is an exact forbear of the stewardess Halle Berry played later in Executive Decision!
It’s a 90s action movie that seems to have been stamped out on a tintype! Ha ha, the bad guy is what an AI computer would spit out if you fed it details from every other action movie made around the same time! Everything about him, from his name, “Charles Rane,” to his plummy accent, his style-mullet hair, his snide, superior, steely-effete manner, the way he first underestimates and later admits to underestimating the capabilities of the Snipes character, whom he calls “Mis-tah Cut-tah,” and finally to his climactic, hilarious death plummet from the plane, is so familiar as to seem a Simpsons-style parody!
The action scenes are not as peppy as one might want, but at least our characters get out of the plane for a while and chase around through a fun fair adjacent to the airport! Ha ha, there’s a merry-go-round shootout which none of the kids on the ride seem even to notice, even as horseheads are exploding into splinters all around them! And where are the parents? I know that when my child is on a ride, I’m standing there watching him! Not so in the world of Passenger 57!
So it’s goofy and dumb, and one wishes it were more exciting, or exciting at all; but on the other hand at 87 minutes it’s short and sweet and never boring, and it’s as comfortable as an old cotton shirt in its absolute refusal to stray from the action formula of that period! Ha ha, I give Passenger 57 one and a half bottles of steak sauce!