Passenger 57 – #1 in the U.S. (Nov. 6-8)
All-Time Domestic & Worldwide $44,065,653
Passenger 57 is a ride not worth arriving at the gate for.
“Die Hard on an X” seems like a winning formula. You have a famous actor tackling a league of terrorists from a place that appears to be harmless as they come. Well, in 1992, anyway. Here is one of the most popular actors using their might to beat the terrorists off a plane and save the day again, an everyman people can look up to. If that sounds an awful lot like Air Force One, you’d be mistaken. That’s in five years from this film. Passenger 57 is the one to do Plane Hard first. Wesley Snipes is the John McClane for the movie with his charm and looks like a star. Yet, Snipes cannot save this film from being a dismal cliche-riddled film where everyone has one dimension and nothing more. Even the premise itself is a bit of a lie for most of it.
John Cutter (Snipes) is a former Secret Service agent turned safety trainer at Atlantic Airlines, teaching stewards how to handle dangerous terrorist situations on a plane. He is encouraged to make a deal to become vice president of a counterterrorist initiative. Cutter is reluctant, given his own prevention of his wife’s death. While boarding a flight from the East Coast to Los Angeles, he encounters the terrorist Charles Rane (Bruce Payne). Cutter must use his learned skills to stop the terrorist from taking control of the plane.
To say I disliked this movie is putting it mildly. Passenger 57 is one of the worst action movies of the 90s. Snipes deserved better than to star in a generic actioner. This movie is also coming a month after Under Siege exceeded my expectations as a Die Hard ripoff. It’s even produced by Warner Bros., like Siege.
That promise of Die Hard on a plane is quickly dismissed after twenty minutes, only to return for the third act in less than ten minutes. It’s tossed out the window to take time in a carnival in a small town in Louisana. If that does not sound exciting in the slightest, you’d be correct. There is one exciting moment of a one-on-one fight complete with a knife. Unfortunately, Under Siege even did that better.
Snipes is a better actor than Segal by a country mile, but even he cannot save this movie. He can hold his own, deliver lines, and be a charismatic leader. It is all here and presents. Only he could provide the beauty that is the “always bet on black” line. For full Snipes in action-hero mode, wait until 1998’s Blade, which showcases his talents. Not to say this film doesn’t. In fact, that’s the only highlight. When Snipes moves and whips all the ass, it’s fantastic, but outside of that, nothing here is worth memorable.
The villain portrayed by Bruce Payne is nothing but a cartoon. There’s only one dimension to him, and it’s a complete a-hole without the charm or intimidation. It’s Hans Gruber but without the care and an actual persona. It feels like an imitation of what a serial killer should be. The most intriguing part of his character is also never elaborated on by explaining he constantly changes his face with plastic surgery. That would have been incredible to see a fake-out gag with this actor, only for the real Charles Rane to emerge like a proto-Face/Off. It’s a missed opportunity, but they did not miss a chance to call him “The Rane of Terror.”
The level of incompetence from all the other characters is baffling. It’s a parade of one-note roles and cliched lines. It’s as if Die Hard was stupid and if Under Siege decided to dock the ship at port halfway through the movie. Personally, I checked out the minute they hit the carnival but reluctantly continued watching. The only other worthwhile part of the film is seeing a young Elizabeth Hurley. She looks like she wrapped up her freshman year of college because of how fresh face she is. I did not expect her to be part of the terrorist group, but I guess the British accent should have given it away.
Passenger 57 is a ride not worth arriving at the gate for. It fails on its premise and in giving Snipes the proper lead role he deserves. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and a waste of a Die Hard clone.
Revue Rating: 2 out of 5
Next week, the spooky season may have come to pass, but horror never dies. Neither does love. It’s Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. So many possessives.