Movies like Die Hard

Passenger 57

Year: 1992
Directed By: Kevin Hooks
Written By: Stewart Raffill, Dan Gordon, and David Loughery


This is one of my favorite action movies of all time and specifically my favorite of all the Die Hard scenario spin off films. I suppose that calls for explanation though, as most of the time when I mention this movie I get that befuddled look like I’m speaking a different language. I am alone in the world where this movie is indisputably awesome and I got here in the simplest of ways.

This was one of the first R-rated movies I was “allowed” to watch. The film that introduced me to both Wesley Snipes, and the word “motherfucker.” How can I not love it right? I imagine the first time I saw it some light shined around my head as I soaked in all the profanity and witty dialogue. I can’t remember specifically when it was that I saw this movie but I imagine it was sometime in the 94-96 era. This movie created a domino effect for my film watching life because after I was allowed to see one, and it was this one at that, the window had opened for so much more. It was hard to bar me seeing films like Die Hard, Terminator 2, and Braveheart when I had already stepped over such a line. The world got so brilliantly exciting and vulgar in my movie watching life that followed.

I am a big fan of Wesley Snipes, and this is my favorite of all the characters he has played. So much that I heard from him in this movie stays with me today. Phrases like “always bet on black” and “gotta go gotta go” are literally uttered by me on a regular basis. Sometimes when the opportunity presents itself I’ll look to one of my siblings and ask “what did we learn from Wesley Snipes?” The answer always being “always bet on black.” Snipes has played many great characters in the past, Simon Phoenix and Blade among his best, but John Cutter is always my favorite. For me it goes no farther than when the country sheriff asks him,” I don’t know Mr. Cutter what would you do if you were me?” To which Snipes responds in a tone of confidence and aggression, “KILL MYSELF!” Gotta love John Cutter and the jazzy music that overtones his ass kicking and smooth talk.

I am also a big fan of Tom Sizemore, on screen only. He has an unsavory and uncouth personal life that I choose to ignore because it is so disappointing. I rarely see him in a movie role that I don’t like him in and that all started in this movie. In this film he plays Sly Delvecchio, that’s D-E-L….VECCHIO, John Cutter’s best friend and comic relief for the film. His name Sly was actually a pun because Sylvester Stallone turned down the role of John Cutter when it was first offered.

Charles Rane is not insane……Charles Rane is not insane. Bruce Payne is not a star. Yet I still to this day think he was awesome as the ruthless and monotone British terrorist in this movie. Actually, Bruce Payne has a long filmography that includes over 73 credits yet this is the only one I have ever seen, or heard of for that matter. Nevertheless when you do something memorable it can live on forever and regardless how this movie is remembered it will always live on with me in some capacity as I will never forget it. I love Charles Rane as a bad guy. A man who isn’t afraid to simply jump out of a sixth floor window to get away from police, and then get up and keep running as if he is super human. I love the scene when every one on the plane is frantically buckling their seat belts and Rane simply grips the corner of a wall. He doesn’t even grip a reasonable handhold and he doesn’t have to because this man is fearless, and impossible to be injured by something as simple as the lack of a seat belt.  Rane is a bad guy who will shoot his own man rather than have him used as leverage against him. He is calm, cool, in command, and utterly relentless in his desire to create pointless havoc. He also turns out to be quite the quiet badass when it comes to throwing punches with the karate savvy John Cutter. Rane is only dispatched after a furious number of kicks to the balls as he holds on with seaming ease to an open door frame on a flying jet. This no name villain/actor from a no name film sets the bar high for bad guys and that as much as all the other reasons is why this movie is one of my favorites.

It’s worth noting that this was one of the first film appearances by Elizabeth Hurley. Who does little more than carry a really large gun and look really hot. She is so young in this movie it took me a while to realize it was actually her. When I saw the movie for the first time I didn’t know who she was and when she blew up in the later 90s I felt like she looked altogether different than she did in this film.

I love this movie and I have so much fun every time I watch it. Despite how ridiculous the Die Hard scenario is on an airplane there have been so many made. Off the top of my head I can think of two other films just like this one although they both suck in comparison. Air Force One featured Harrison Ford as President John McClane and Executive Decision gave us an awesome surprise early death for Steven Seagal but made Kurt Russell an unlikely John McClane in the same scenario. It’s so silly to have this Die Hard scenario play out on an airplane anyway. Where there are so few places to hide and a very real danger should a gun actually be fired while in flight. Despite all this it keeps happening, i.e. Air “Taken” that came out recently with Liam Neeson as that guy with a “specific set of skills.” I didn’t see that one and won’t because the whole thing is so stupid. These movies are for amateur film watchers who watch movies to turn their brains off and see lazy story telling.

This movie is only endeared to me because it was in my youth that I fell in love with it. I think Wesley Snipes is both funny and badass as John Cutter. No matter what role Snipes has ever played he has brought his own swagger to the role. I have always felt that one of the most important parts for any character in film whether good or bad is the cool factor. People can say whatever they want about Wesley Snipes but the man has cool factor and nobody can take it away from him. Snipes brings his coolness to this movie with John Cutter and by extension the movie is cooler. While this movie is nothing original I do think it has more merit for being made before the countless others that have more or less the same premise. The John Cutter fan inside of me wants you to see this movie. Is it worth your time? The question would have to be is any action movie like this worth your time? Well there is a time and place for everything and if you find yourself with an opportunity to see this movie I think your time will be well spent.

NEXT MOVIE: Patton (1970)



Broken Arrow

Year: 1996
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Graham Yost


When we reviewed The Last Boy Scout I mentioned that when you have seen one action movie like this you have practically seen them all.  The only differences being who played the hero and how many bad guys they killed.  This movie is really no different, Christian Slater is the hero and he kills plenty of bad guys in a movie that is about nothing more than gun play and explosions.  This one was directed by John Woo and that does give it a slight edge I think.  I have a special place in my heart for these kind of mindless action movies. They were the kind of movies my parents watched and while I grew to demand more to be entertained I still enjoy these.  I’ve actually liked most of “the Die Hard scenario” movies that came out during the nineties and I like this one too, Die Hard in the Desert.

With John Woo movies you can count on two things.  It will be pointless with over the top action, but everything will look really cool. Woo makes cool action movies and for what they lack in plot they more than make up for with the exaggerated action. Woo also usually has a good score to his films that make them seem more dramatic and mask the fact that there isn’t really any point to the film.  This one is a perfect example; it’s the Die Hard scenario and about nothing more than guns and explosions, peppered with enough fight scenes to keep things interesting. I love the intro boxing scene and how it was choreographed.  These guys aren’t really even boxing in the traditional sense. They are just beating the hell out of each other, for fun, as all friends like to do. Christian Slater literally runs down a jeep on foot in this movie, and as he dives for the vehicle he also catches a gun in mid-air.  That’s John Woo for you.  Oh yeah it is totally ridiculous but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it looked cool and I was into it when it was happening.

Another thing about John Woo, he always saw the value John Travolta had as a bad guy.  I think Travolta has had a really interesting career and I have always liked him despite his personal issues.  Being both a Scientologist and the type of possible homosexual that forces himself on other men he doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy I would like personally.  Yet I think he has made some great movies and played some good roles. He has been around forever and done nearly everything, but I have always liked him best in this kind of role.  I think he is better as a bad guy like this one as opposed to Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Great movie and great role that put him back on top but I always thought he looked ridiculous with that hair, and he was a junkie.  The film was great because of the other incredible characters and performances but that is all beside the point. He is getting old now and it’s going to be harder for him to continue getting significant roles. He hasn’t aged as well as his Scientologist counterpart, but he is much older and we may see Tom have the same problem soon. Travolta will be playing the part of John Gotti in an upcoming film about Gotti that was a big priority of the studio at first but seems to keep having hiccups. I don’t know about that casting but I do sincerely hope Travolta blows me away with the part and gets back his credibility.

Christian Slater has really got to miss the 90s right? I have never been a big fan of his Jack Nicholson wanna be style of acting but he is not that bad and I have liked him here and there. Slater tried his hand real hard at this genre during this time.  It was an interesting time because Schwarzenegger and Stallone were just starting to get too old and soon anybody was being cast in this kind of part.  Funny to think that over fifteen years have passed and they are both still trying to cling to these kinds of roles as action heroes.  Even though one has served as Governor and the other has been busted but is still obviously juicing to maintain his physique. As for Christian Slater I do like him in this movie. In truth anybody could have played the part and I don’t know that he brought anything special to the part but still, he was alright.

While I don’t know that it is really necessary I still feel I have to mention Howie Long in the review of this movie. The man may not have been the greatest actor but dammit he did his best and he fit the role perfectly for this movie.  As a huge NFL fan I think Howie is awesome.  He had a great career playing for the Raiders and I think he is a vital part of FOX’s pregame show.  He has also produced two sons that have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.  His oldest son Chris Long went second over all a few years ago and just this year his son Kyle was drafted in the middle of the first to Chicago. Also worth mentioning is Delroy Lindo but only because he always brings it in roles like this.  I am not really a fan of Lindo but he has a great authoritative voice that makes him fit well in many movies.

This is the kind of movie that could only be made in the pre-Jack Bauer world.  Let’s face it, Christian Slater is no Jack Bauer and Travolta should count his lucky stars that he didn’t have to deal with Kiefer when he stole nuclear weapons.  Slater doesn’t even torture him, just gets his ass beat before getting lucky and winning.  Travolta got off easy.  Still I like these kinds of mindless action movies and I like this movie.  It’s part of a time in film when this was a scenario for success regardless of whether it was a good movie or not and I miss those times now.  As an audience I think we demand much more this day and age.  We have to be emotionally invested and shocked nowadays, but maybe that’s just me.  I think the time for this type of movie has passed but despite that opinion Liam Neeson has somehow had success making TWO Taken films.

I’ve gone much farther than this movie deserves but found myself in the position to really go the extra mile, it’s just unfortunate it came with such a silly movie.  Yet there is always a time and a place for a film like this.  If you find yourself ready for something pointless and loud then this is the movie for you.  The movie runs a bit too long in my opinion but for the first half I am always into it. That isn’t to say the second half is bad, but it’s just more of what you have already seen.  I have just evolved as a viewer and need more from a film these days.  So I don’t know that I can say this movie is worth your time, but maybe it is worth some of it, it’s an easy way to kill some free time if nothing else.