John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is cop in a horrific, violent, dystopian future, whose methods are so intense that, in capturing the terrorist Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), they end up sharing a punishment. Being put in suspended animation. Skip to several decades later, all crime has been eliminated and the police exist only for show. So when Phoenix escapes, the only way the useless police (including Benjamin Bratt and, my fav, Sandra Bullock) can deal with him is to unfreeze John Sparton. It’s a fish out of water story, it’s fabulous, I love it so much, and I really want to know exactly what the three seashells do.
Ah, these classic nineties cheesy action films! I love them so much! So, the premise of this is probably more ridiculous than most. John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) are partners, working to catch pickpockets and the like on the subway system. Oh, and they are brothers – only via foster care, John has always looked after Charlie. Then in comes the extremely attractive new cop, Grace (Jennifer Lopez) who they are both instantly attracted to. John, the good guy, is prepared to step aside for Charlie, but Grace likes John. Then Charlie gets fired, and between that, missing out on Grace and having a massive gambling debt, well, not even his groovy ponytail can keep him going. So he decides that he’d better just rob the moneytrain. And we want him to win because he is charming and lovely, and the big boss, Patterson (Robert Blake) is a nasty so-and-so.
It’s got so much crazy going on, how can you not watch it? There’s the side story that there is a guy trying to set female workers on fire (awful, but the wonderful Chris Cooper was the psycho). The sex scene in which it appears that J-Lo is trying to escape from Snipes, juxtaposed with Woody Harrelson being beaten up. Then there is the piece de resistance… a massive train crash, with two trains, and lots of running and jumping, explosions and the like. It’s fabulous.
Ah, remember the late eighties and early nineties with their kinda bad but also totally awesome action films? No, not Die Hard, that’s a good one. Things like this and Con Air, and Demolition Man. Broken Arrow. Face Off. Oh, too many, too wonderful, too terrible. Wesley Snipes is passenger 57 – John Cutter, a security expert with a recent tragic past (something happened to his wife) who is on a plane that is hijacked by the evil Charles Rane (Bruce Payne) a bad guy with a most flowing mullet and curious introduction (he is about to have his face replaced medically, but instead kills the surgeon and jumps out a window. Or perhaps just runs out the front door. Details are not important, people). But to get through and save everyone possible, he must learn to trust again, as well as dealing with Deep South bigotry (and, with great humour, just forgive the racists who treat him like crap).
It’s not a great film, it’s not even a good film, but for a bunch of people, probably all of my vintage, it’s one of our favourite films. And, like many of the films mentioned above, it has some great lines. Why on earth, in the middle of a conversation with the hijackers would you bring up gambling? Oh, only to get in the wonderful line: “Always bet on black.” Genius.