Tuesday, May 08, 2012

In praise of Passenger 57

As part of an experiment to see if brain-dead action movies really do rot your mind (Answer: Yes. Yes they do), I saw action movie Passenger 57 for the first time recently.

The Wesley Snipes airline hostage drama has been an actual thing for the last twenty years, but I have only just got round to see what is clearly the best worst film of all time. That's two decades of my life wasted, knowing that Passenger 57 exists, but not knowing the true terror within.

Let's not beat about the bush: Passenger 57 is a film that stinks so bad, it has gone all the way round from awfulness, back through "so bad it's good territory" into the rolling vistas of abject suckery that are usually reserved for the Twilight franchise.

In short, I loved it.

Made in 1992, it wallows out-of-time as an eighties throwback, full of slap-bass soundtrack, bad hair and huge trousers. It reads straight from the menu of clich├ęd film-making in a way that only Hollywood can manage:

Slap-bass soundtrack that can only be dated by cutting Level 42 in half and counting the rings

Maverick hero with a tragic secret which is replayed in flashback at intervals during the film

Maverick hero who has come out of retirement for just one, last job as a favour to a friend

Maverick hero who has had enough of this shit

Evil British villain with extraordinarily bad hair and a lax attitude to human life

Feisty female sidekick who thinks she knows better, but soon comes to see that kicking bad guys in the fork then shooting them in the head is the only way to solve delicate hostage situations

Slimy corporate boss who takes the plaudits in the final scene

The usual rent-a-hostage crowd: Spirited old lady, single mum with precocious child, Star Trek red-shirts who are slaughtered in their dozens

Incompetent, slightly racist local law enforcers who eventually see the error of their ways

Evil sidekick who is the living spit of former Top Gear host Quentin Wilson

Evil sidekick with a pony-tail

Completely unnecessary chase through a fairground as an excuse to show the logos of as many corporate sponsors as possible

Dreadful one-liners: "Always bet on black!"

Explosive decompression of aircraft at altitude, in which everything is sucked out, except feisty female sidekick, who is standing right next to the open door

Explosive decompression of aircraft at altitude, which stops the second Bad Hair British Psycho Villain falls to his doom
And that's just barely scratching the surface. I may actually have to spend cash money for the DVD, providing it's from a charity shop.

The huge, huge bonus from Passenger 57 is - of course - Liz Hurley as Bad Hair British Psycho Villain's posh British psycho sidekick, who exudes absolutely no menace whatsoever, and proves for once and for all that nothing good ever came out of Basingstoke except for the M3 motorway. Die Hard? Die Limp, more like.

We salute a truly awful film, and cannot wait for the sequel Passenger 58.

Also, the sex version, Passenger 69.

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