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Passenger 57
1992 - R - 84 Mins.
Director: Kevin Hooks
Producer: Dan Paulson, Lee Rich
Written By: David Loughery , Dan Gordon
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore, Alex Datcher, Bruce Greenwood Robert Hooks Elizabeth Hurley
Review by: James O'Ehley
Wesley Snipes is John McClane, er sorry, John Cutter, an airlines security specialist.

Cutter, we learn, has lost his wife in tragic shootout during a convenience store robbery featuring a vindictive small-time supermarket robber. The robber shot McCla… , er I mean, Cutter’s wife after getting Cutter to put down his firearm on the floor to teach him a ‘lesson’ (in civics, I suppose).

Then, in a moment of brilliant lucidity, the robber runs for his car, leaving Cutter free to pick up his firearm and shoot the hell out of what must have been the stupidest petty robber in history . . .

Anyway, with this set-up out of the way we know that (a) Cutter will meet a new love interest, and (b) will redeem himself in a similar hostage situation.

What is unexpected though is that Cutter’s new love interest will bear such an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson that I found myself closely scrutinizing the end credits to make sure that Jackson didn’t actually star in this movie (the character is actually played by Alex Datcher and as far as I know it isn’t a nom de plume for a certain pop megastar and alleged child molester).

Needless to say I found all of this vaguely disturbing . . .

Anyway, soon Cutter accidentally finds himself on a commercial domestic flight transporting, get this, a world-renowned (is that the right term?) airplane hijacker named Charles Rame. Rame was being transferred as a prisoner by two FBI guards, flying cattle class.

Now I know the FBI can be grossly negligent (Waco, Ruby Ridge and all that) but this just borders on the clinically insane! Imagine they capture Osama bin Laden, and cart him around with only two FBI guards . . . on a commercial flight with loads of other ordinary passengers onboard as well!

Anyway, before you can say “Die Hard” on an airplane, Rames manages to hijack the plane and Mc . . . sorry, Cutter must outwit and outfight the Rames and his terrorist sidekicks. This doesn’t turn out to be so difficult since Rames’ henchmen are either bald guys, guys wearing glasses and women. The disconcerting net effect is like watching Snipes beat the crap out of some nerd “Star Trek” or “Xena” convention-goers.

Couldn’t they have picked some more worthy opponents for Snipes to be matched up against? Watching Snipes beat up Elizabeth Hurley isn’t exactly what I was expecting from an against-all-odds-type action movie.

By the way, Rames himself should consult his hairdresser (his hairstyle is borrowed from Michael Bolton), and uses excessive eye-liner.

In fact, you can spot all the bad guys in the movie by their bad fashion sense (check out the dude with the pony tail and the HUGE blue earrings, for instance). Then again, so does most of the white people in this movie – who fall under either (a) submissive sidekick, (b) hick law enforcement or (c) evil British terrorist. British terrorist. Yeah, Rame is somehow a member of the British aristocracy – it is never really explained just why he is hijacking airplanes all over the place and all that.)

At one point Cutter gives Rames some gambling advice: “Always bet on Black.” (What’s wrong with Red?) While this is sure to raise some chuckles at a Black Panther rally, it just struck me as one of the lamest one-liners in recent action movie history.

Interesting to note was how Snipes as Action Hero was presented. How macho actors in these roles are portrayed always betrays something about how Hollywood thinks its intended target audience would like to see itself. Here Snipes has some kind of black economic empowerment thing going as he is made to drive an expensive red sports car, wear Armani suits with smooth jazz as the soundtrack to his life. (This is despite Cutter apparently having a self-admitted “loser” job and having to flying Economy Class instead of First.)

Compare this for instance with the dark tear-drop sunglasses, long black jacket, racing-car gloves, Italian antique sports car-driving and toothpick chewing character portrayed by Snipes’ “Demolition Man” co-star Sylvester Stallone in the 1986 “Cobra” . . .

Other notables: the gratuitous product placement by Pepsi Cola; how the bad guy being sucked out of the open airplane cabin door doesn’t come as such a huge surprise somehow; the amount of white folks with bad hairstyles; the Japanese motorbike with the American flag on its fairing; how very little in the plot makes sense; and so forth.

Anyway, I’m sorry, but these are the sort observations one cannot help but make while watching an action flick as generic, predictable and tiresome as “Passenger 57” . . .
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

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