Passenger 57 (1992)


*. No, it’s not a very good movie. But it does deserve some credit for launching Wesley Snipes as a solo action star. Outside of the marginal blackspoitation genre, how many other black heroes had there been before Snipes?
*. This could easily have been a part played by a white guy, and indeed it was originally a project pitched to Stallone. This is the way a lot of breakthrough casting works. The lead in Night of the Living Dead wasn’t written as a black part, but Duane Jones was available and so that’s who they used. Ripley in Alien wasn’t a part written for a female lead, but that was how it was cast. The same thing seems to have happened here, though they did add some colour to the script (e.g., “Always bet on black”).
*. It was 1992, and tough guys wore earrings. In their left ear. I think that was supposed to mean something.
*. What a huge, and very awkward, leap in the plot that takes us from the airfield to the fair and then back again. It’s almost like they looked at the script and couldn’t come up with enough things to do on the plane and so they had to land it and pad out the story a bit with some total nonsense. I like how the bad guys simply climb out of the plane and walk away across the airfield without being noticed, then magically appear at the fairgrounds, which they foolishly decide to shoot up and where they are easily caught.
*. Despite this farcical plot padding, the running time still comes in at only 84 minutes.
*. The old lady on the plane mistakes Snipes for Arsenio Hall. Does anyone remember who Arsenio Hall was today? Or what the “whoo! whoo! whoo!” business was all about? I suspect few people who weren’t around at the time.
*. Bruce Payne got a lot of love from critics for his terrorist psycho (“Charles Rane is not insane!”). I don’t think his performance is very special or memorable. He just has long hair and a British accent. But I guess that was creepy enough.


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