Passenger 57 1992 Movie Scene Wesley Snipes as John Cutter and Alex Datcher as Marti waiting to jump from the airplane

Passenger 57 [1992]

There seems to be an endless supply of these entertaining nineties B action movies. Starring Wesley Snipes, Passenger 57 is a movie that can be best described as Die Hard in an airplane. We will be following an airline security specialist who finds himself aboard a hijacked airplane. Now, he must use all his skills to take care of this situation. Since these are the nineties, of course, our main character is wrestling with the loss of his wife. But instead of resolving it in the usual way, the movie leans into it, showing it’s not just another forgettable action movie.

What makes Passenger 57 such an entertaining movie is its main villain, charismatic and ruthless Charles Rane played by Bruce Payne. Bruce nailed every scene he was in offering a worthy opponent to the almighty Snipes. The action starts right away as the opening scene features not only a vicious murder but also an exciting chase. However, soon we find ourselves aboard this huge airliner and this is where we will spend most of the time. There’s something so fascinating about these airplane movies that I can’t quite describe it. Perhaps it’s the claustrophobia or a sense of progression and imminent danger.

Whatever the fuck it is, it just works, like this movie. Passenger 57 may not be as tight as it could be but with a running time of just 80 minutes and fast pacing, it’s very entertaining. Apart from our two leads, we also have Elizabeth Hurley in one of her first acting roles and young Tom Sizemore. As you could probably guess, this movie was written for Sylvester Stallone but he turned it down. It was so refreshing and cool to see a black man get a good lead role in an action movie for once. And unlike Will Smith or Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes knew how to fight. Hell, the man started training when he was just 12 years old.

Still struggling with his wife’s death, John Cutter is a broken man working a dead-end job. He’s one of the best airline security experts but he chooses this meager existence not knowing what to do with his guilt and grief. His best friend Delvecchio convinces him to take a job at a major airline so now John must travel to Los Angeles to do all the paperwork. He boards the flight not knowing that there’s an international terrorist aboard, a man willing to do anything to get what he wants.

Okay, okay, maybe I overdid it a bit with the praises as Passenger 57 can get silly at times. Some of the lines are downright corny and the story is utterly predictable. Additionally, this is a pre-9/11 movie so you can see just how loose airline safety was back then. I recommend this movie to those who are feeling nostalgic about nineties action movies. As I get older and older, I start to appreciate more and more these undemanding and forgettable actioners. They’re not only entertaining but also relaxing.

Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Passenger 57, do check out another airborne Wesley Snipes vehicle, Drop Zone. It has that B movie charm that blockbusters like Executive Decision or Air Force One simply do not have. Con Air might be the exception confirming the rule although that’s not a classic airplane movie.

Director: Kevin Hooks

Writers: Stewart Raffill, Dan Gordon, David Loughery

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore, Alex Datcher, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Horse

Fun Facts: The plane in the movie Passenger 57 was a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar.


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