Every actor has to find their niche and sometimes it can be the one unexpected role that brings you into the mainstream. Before he was Blade, and prior to being on the run in U.S. Marshals, Wesley Snipes entered the action hero status with Passenger 57. A movie that is quite short, just under eighty-four minutes, but nevertheless is an enjoyable action flick that is filled with action, humor and Wesley Snipes’s famous line; “Always bet on black.”
The movie opens with a notable terrorist named Charles Rane (Bruce Payne) attempting to escape from the F.B.I in Miami, Florida only to be captured after a foot pursuit. While awaiting a transfer back to Los Angeles, the F.B.I decides to fly the terrorist back in order to stand trial for his crimes. Then we get to meet John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) who works as an airline security expert and specializes in training the flight attendants on what to do in the likely event that someone would attempt to overtake the plane. He takes his job very seriously and doesn’t like to kid around. Perhaps the reason for his up tightness is that he was unable to save his wife from a convenience store robbery and is still haunted by those events.
After a training exercise goes awry leaving Cutter somewhat embarrassed and even a bit ticked off, an old friend of his named Sly Delvecchio (Tom Sizemore) enters the movie and offers Cutter an unique offer. He wants Cutter to be the Vice President of the Anti-terrorism unit for his company, Atlantic International Airlines. They discuss this further at a lunch meeting with the President of the company Stuart Ramsey (Bruce Greenwood). Cutter accepts and is now flying to Los Angeles to accept the job. In a sheer chance of luck, or maybe not, Cutter is on the same flight as Charles Rane is on!
You can probably guess what happens next. Once the plane takes off, Rane’s terrorist crew overtake the plane causing much havoc. Cutter manages to escape the violence and terror and seeks the help in a flight attendant named Marti (Alex Datcher) with whom he’s already familiar with. She attends his training classes on what to do in the event that something like say a terrorist takeover occurs!What ensues is a one-on-one battle with Cutter and the goons who work for Rane.
I won’t give much away, but as I said before, there’s plenty of action and some impressive fight scenes. Bruce Payne, while evil as ever, is truly effective in this movie while also providing some humor as well. He makes other terrorists seen in other films of this genre appear tame. Not only is he well educated, but he’s cruel and at the least bit, quite honest. It’s a good performance in an otherwise formula driven action film, but that doesn’t hinder the movie. Sure, it doesn’t rise to the level of Die Hard 2 or Executive Decision, but for an action thriller, it achieves the thing that everyone wants, entertainment. Being a box office success, it would lead Snipes star in other action films most notably Blade in 1998.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Stars
Passenger 57 is completely implausible and utterly goofy, but it has high energy and a sense of style from director Kevin Hooks. I like the script and the relentless banter between Cutter and Delvecchio, not to mention the menacing performance from Bruce Payne. As mentioned before, Passenger 57 isn’t the best of action movies regarding terrorists taking over a plane, but it’s still a fun movie that offers nothing less than sheer entertainment. Wesley Snipes made the ’90s a lot of fun and Passenger 57 is one that shouldn’t be passed over. It’s campy fun and you’ll have a good time watching it. I guarantee it.