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)