Passenger 57

(Kevin Hooks, USA, 1992)


Passenger 57 is a disappointing action saga in the tradition of Die Hard (1988) and Hard Boiled (1992). It is essentially a star vehicle for Wesley Snipes, who never seems entirely comfortable with the macho heroics of the plot.

Snipes plays an airline security chief whose glory days as a cop are long past. He happens to board a flight which is then hijacked by a crack team of international terrorists.

Bruce Payne fills the role of head terrorist with malevolent charm. Like many a movie terrorist, he is short on political ideals, but high as a kite on his own mad genius.

Director Kevin Hooks stages the many action clinches effectively, and multiplies points of plot interest so that the pace of proceedings never flags. But, beyond these mechanical thrills, the film offers little that is engaging.

There is one terrific moment when Snipes barks a bit of roulette wisdom down a phone line to Payne: "Always bet on the black!" Yet the filmmakers are clearly uneasy about delivering a rousing action movie where all the black characters are strong and sexy, while all the whites are snivelling or evil.

This unease becomes most evident when Snipes suddenly switches from insulting every honky white in his path to loving and thanking them. How demeaning.

MORE Hooks: Black Dog, Irresistible Force

© Adrian Martin January 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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