Rane Stays Mainly on the Plane
"Passenger 57" is what I refer to as a ready meal movie; they come in different varieties but at the end of the day they less than memorably fill a gap. As such with "Passenger 57" we get various stock situations the former cop haunted by the death of a loved one, a terrorist who takes over a plane and it just so happens that are former cop is on the plane to tackle the terrorist. There is a tiny bit more to it than that but not much and in many ways "Passenger 57" is basically "Die Hard" on a plane, good guy in the wrong place at the right time to save the day.
Former cop turned security expert John Cutter (Wesley Snipes - New Jack City) finds himself on a plane with terrorist Charles Rane (Bruce Payne - Oxford Blues) who having been arrested by the FBI is being escorted to L.A. But Rane and several of his men, who are travelling aboard the plane, over throw the FBI and take control of the plane leaving Cutter to try and stop him from not only blowing the plane up but escaping yet again.
So let me get what is good about "Passenger 57" done with first because there is something good to this run of the mill action movie. And the good is two pieces of casting that of Wesley Snipes as John Cutter and Bruce Payne as Charles Rane. Whilst Snipes may have a thoroughly unoriginal character to deliver and some even worse dialogue which at times seems to be poking fun at James Bond he certainly knows how to deliver a fight. In fact it's not just the fights as Snipes sells every moment of action brilliantly be it punching someone's lights out or jumping on to the lifting gear of a plane. And with Bruce Payne you get a very icy bad guy, an evil Brit whose menacing tone and the hard stare makes him a little unsettling.
But that is really the only thing you can praise "Passenger 57" for, two bits of casting because everything else is very ordinary. As already mentioned this is a movie made in the image of "Die Hard" and so whilst we have the unoriginal element of Cutter being haunted by the death of a loved one what everything comes down to is being in the wrong place at the right time to tackle Charles Rane. Heck Rane is even a terrorist making it even more "Die Hard" like and with his range of gun totting henchmen there is little originality to either the characters or the story. Even the action which Snipes delivers with real gusto is nothing new and whilst martial arts infused fist fights look impressive it is little more than Snipes kicking butt usually followed by some comical quip.
There are some things which are genuinely bad and I don't mean that if you were to focus on the storyline you would find as many holes as plot. Nope some of the casting is less than impressive and no matter how attractive Elizabeth Hurley is she is no action chick. And as for moments of comedy, from yokel local cops to Tom Sizemore as the scared of flying Sly Delvecchio just feels cheesy. Although a gag about Cutter being mistaken for Arsenio Hall is one of the rare humorous moments which works.
What this all boils down to is that "Passenger 57" is a ready meal movie, it may have different packaging but what it delivers is nothing any different to countless other action movies built on the "Die Hard" formula. It basically fills a gap with Snipes doing a decent job of delivering some good action which makes up for the plot holes and occasional moment of corny comedy.