Wesley Snipes

August 8, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Passenger 57

SAFE
 For this ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”, I have decided to continue with the “Expendables 3” theme of “Battle of the Tough Guys“. This time we will look at the work of Wesley Snipes, who is one of the newest additions to the Expendables team. A man who is no stranger to the action genre and who, according to what I’m sure is a more than reputable internet news source, was granted an early release from prison to take up arms against other tax evaders.
The year is 1992. President George H. W. Bush is televised becoming ill and vomiting in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Later Bush would step aside, allowing the newly elected, jazz saxophone playing Bill Clinton into the Oval Office. Also, the Cold War is declared officially over. Without the ever present threat of complete thermo-nuclear annihilation, Thrash-Metal musicians became disillusioned and began cutting their hair.
All this and Wesley Snipes took it personally when a few terrorists tried to hijack his plane, in “Passenger 57“.
THE SKINNY
Charles Rane, Bruce Payne, has just been captured by the FBI for countless crimes against his fellow man. Terrorism and murder mostly. The feds struck just as Rane was about to have his face altered by a plastic surgeon. He has been on the run for some time now and the reason he has always been able to allude capture is that he periodically changes his appearance surgically.
Now in custody, Rane is being transported via the friendly skies to Los Angeles, where he will await a trial and his inevitable execution.
Meanwhile, the career of former detective John Cutter, Wesley Snipes, has taken some interesting turns during the past several years. Cutter now trains security techniques to airline personnel, what to do in the case of a hijacking. Cutter took this job after one unfortunate evening when he and his wife walked into a convenience store which was being robbed. Cutter tried to stop the perp, but it resulted in Cutters wife being shot and killed.
Cutter has tried to put all that behind him but his reputation as a hardworking detective who has been giving airlines safety tips, has garnered him the attention of the federal anti-terrorism taskforce. They want him to head their department. Cutters bags are packed and he is on his way to Los Angeles.
Is this important? Not really. It’s just a way to unknowingly get Rane, a murderous mastermind, and Cutter, all around bad-ass, on the same plane together.

Rane is one of those guys who sees  himself as a bit of a genius and likes to think three steps ahead of everyone else. Because of this he has devised a daring escape plan involving several passengers and several flight staff, who work for him of course.
The plans genius is in it’s simplicity. They’ll hijack the plane, rig the plane to explode, jump from the plane before it explodes and when it does, no one will be able to tell who’s charred corpse is who’s. Rane would be as free as a bird to continue blowing up make-a-wish kids, or do whatever a sicko like Rane does.
But there is a flaw in his plan. He never figured John Cutter would be on the plane. Cutter, knowing the inner workings of the plane, disconnects some wires in the hull of the airship, causing it to purge it’s fuel supply. The plane is force to land and Rane sees this is an opportunity to escape. This is a mute point because Cutter, accompanied by several “good ol’ boy” rural police, track Rane down in a near by carnival and return him to custody.
  But there is a twist. Rane’s men are still holding several passengers hostage on the plane, and if he isn’t free to board the now re-fueled plane, they will execute the hostages. Without risking the lives of the passengers, the police grant Rane his freedom.
Rane again thinks he is the all knowing and all powerful cat’s meow, and again underestimates John Cutter. Cutter sneaks aboard through the planes landing gear as it takes off.
  One by one, Cutter dispatches Rane’s loyal henchmen before unarming the reconstituted bomb of his original escape plan.
Finally, as the plane rockets through the air, Rane and Cutter square off in a scene that shows little regard for aviation safety. Each of the men take their turns attempting to throw the other through the open hatch door.
Just when Cutter seems like he is fighting a losing battle, he repeatedly kicks Rane in the dick! Yes my friends. Our hero resorts to low blows. This flusters Rane, as it would anyone, causing him to lose his grip on the edge of the open hatch and fall to his death, somewhere on the surface of the Earth below.
The film concludes with Cutter and the cute flight attendant, who he had awkward flirtations with throughout the picture, walking off into the night to better get to know each other, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
 
THE VERDICT
All in all “Passenger 57” is a pretty good little action flick. It’s a hell of a lot better than other action films from it’s time (“Showdown in Little Tokyo“), more serious too. I only wish the villain was more of an immediate threat. Rane prides himself on being an evil genius, but we don’t get to see him do anything really intelligent. He’s good at escaping, but he isn’t very good at getting away.
Another drawback is the plane. Since the mid ’70s, when hijacking a plane was in vogue, there have been countless theatrical and made for television films about just that; a small group of terrorists hijacking a plane with threats of blowing it up. For this reason “Passenger 57” is rather forgettable. By the time it was released in ’92, the subject matter had been done, redone and lampooned, (“Airplane!”) with little room for improvement. Chuck Norris did it in the ’80s and Harrison Ford did it again in the late ’90s.
If only “Passenger 57” was over the top, then it might have had more lasting power throughout the years. There is no sex and the violence is tame by action movie standards. I think the studio was playing it safe with this one.
Talk about playing it safe, I noticed something rather interesting. I think “Passenger 57” is a ’90s version of a blaxploitation film. I didn’t notice it at first, but through the course of the film there are several subtle references to topical “black culture” of the early ’90s. Tom Sizemore’s character Sly refers to Cutter as “brother” several times, as if to seem casual and friendly, or even hip. But it comes off as goofy. It’s something an embarrassing dad might do to seem cool in front of his kids.
Aside from this and several Arsineo Hall references, which to me imply that this may have been made with a black audience in mind, the film has a tone to it. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s something vague. For instance Cutter encounters several small town southern police who first arrest him (not realizing that he is the hero), and then bust his balls throughout the rest of the film. They only start showing respect for him at the end of the film after Cutter has already saved the day. I think if this same movie was made in the ’70s there would have been a few “N-bombs” dropped, thus showing how much of an up-hill battle Cutter was fighting to do the right thing and to be the hero. It isn’t everyday that I find myself thinking how racism could have made a movie better, but here I am.
I think the filmmakers/studio had all this in mind and were planning to make a film about a strong black hero, rather than one simply starring a black actor. But I think they were afraid to make these race related elements too obvious in fear of seeming racist. OR, perhaps the studio wasn’t willing to gamble marketing a film to a minority fan base so they pulled the “questionable material” in order to broaden the audience and make more money. After all, Snipes was a pretty hot commodity at the time, regardless of the audience.
Either way, it seems “they”, the powers that be, pulled out any overt reference to race at the last minute, and what we’re left with is a film that seems sanitized. The ’90s were a strange time for race. It’s too bad because “Passenger 57” had potential beyond it’s limitations. Wesley Snipes could have been the next “Shaft”.
Anyhow, I’m Cory Carr and this has been another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I hope you panty-wastes learned a thing or two about airplane safety. I know I sure didn’t. Until next time, Semper Fi!
July 26, 2014

Early Returns: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3: Bloated
On one hand The Expendables 3 is a bloated mess that does nothing to earn your money nor time.  We have nothing but a shit ton of yesterday’s great actors thrown into a film where they will not be used accordingly.  The problem with this film is really the fact that it is an Expendables film.  The first one wasn’t great but it was fun.  The second again wasn’t great but it had a lot of action.  The third is just bloated, with editing and script problems beyond fixing.  Scenes going on for far too long and dialogue that’s completely unneeded again bloats this film.  The addition of Ford, Gibson, Banderas and Snipes is why I really wanted to watch this.  However, their characters were extremely underused.  Ford isn’t in the film that much and Wesley’s character is completely useless.  There is a scene in the beginning where he shaves his beard off with a knife.  A giant f&$king knife.  He shaves it so clean, I stopped what I was doing and texted my Simplistic Reviews partner DJ to confirm what I just saw.  Not a great sign starting off. 
Since we are talking about things that were absurdly lazy, lets get into the effects for this thing.  Now the CGI in The Expendables films are typically very bad.  The common thing most point to is the fake CGI blood.  This film doesn’t seem to have CGI blood, thanks to its new PG-13 rating.  But there are still a slew of cheap and horrible looking CGI explosions, muzzle flashes, helicopter chases and one amazingly crappy parachute deployment shot.  It is laugh inducing.  
But back to the bloat.  After an Expendable gets severely injured, Barney Ross goes out to put together a new team out of fear of getting his old team killed.  All of them young, and one of them a woman.  The woman, Ronda Rousey, is the only person I recognized out of all the new recruits.  So now, a film I watch for the nostalgic actors forces me to follow its “plot” with people I’ve never heard of.  A team I couldn’t care less about.  Expendables 2 did this a bit, but it’s much worse here.  The old team eventually comes back after the young guns screw up badly.  At least I think so.  I honestly started to play on my phone at this point.  Stallone’s character Barney Ross is so stupid in this film.  Tactically, emotionally, grammatically stupid.  His motivations make no sense throughout this film and then they switch on a dime for absolutely no reason.  I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why the leader of a team called THE EXPENDABLES is afraid of his men getting killed.  Kinda undermines the entire premise of your franchise there Sly. 
The acting?  You don’t care about the acting.  You do?  Really?  Fine.  It’s like watching a sleepwalking documentary on Discovery Channel hosted by Ben Stein.   Only one or two of these guys (Banderas and Gibson eventually) show any sign of life in this thing.  This is something I can understand with the old vets, but the new blood is just as lifeless.   Here is a SPOILER filled example of everything wrong with this film combined.  There is a scene where Gibson and the bad guys set the team up in a building with C-4 all around them.  They have around 45 seconds to get out.  One of the new Expendables says he can try and block the signal.  He stupidly explains this plan while Gibson listens via a video camera.  But Gibson stupidly does nothing to capitalize on hearing this plan.  So, the scene culminates with these action icons that I grew up with just haplessly standing there for 45 seconds shouting, “Come on, Come on you can do it” to a guy I don’t care about pushing buttons.  They shout their encouragement with all the enthusiasm of a thirteen year old boy forced to play dress-up with his baby sister.  They all say it and say it horribly.  Rousey delivers the line so badly, it made me cringe.  I’m pretty sure I saw her cringe from it too!
On the other hand, anyone who purposefully goes to see this film already knows what they are going to experience.  Nonsensical action, cheesey writing and actors you loved that have seen better days…months…decades.  The Expendables 3 just like the others.  Nothing new, just a lot of bloat.  Is it worth your $9.45 at the theater?  No, nor is it worth your time.  Wait for it to come onto TV…network TV.
June 20, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 5

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Simplistic Sneak Peek is back and better than ever.  In this episode the boys take a look at some animated features and some 80s action stars WITH animated features.  Sinbad, The Ultimate Warrior, Dane Cook and a Holocaust amusement park all come up in this irreverent return of Simplistic Sneak Peek.  You can watch this episode’s trailers below then click video above to hear Matt, DJ and Justin’s thoughts on them in real time.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Penguins Of Madagascar

The Expendables 3

Bonus Trailer

November 14, 2013

White Men Can’t Jump

White Men Can’t Jump – Chemistry

CHEMISTRY

It seems fitting that we are a few weeks into the NBA season, as well as NCAA Basketball just getting underway, that we finally post a review about something basketball oriented.  While football gets most of the glory, cinema-wise, there are a handful of decent b-ball films.  Most people will automatically name “Hoosiers” as the best in the genre, if not one of the best and most inspiring sports films of all-time.  I tend to disagree.  While “Hoosiers” is all well and good, and features a drunk Dennis Hopper, it’s the classic underdog story that has been done to death, so to me, it kind of looses it’s shine after nearly 30 years.

When I think of a basketball film it always comes back to one of the first films I ever saw on HBO back in the early 1990’s, and that would be “White Men Can’t Jump.”  It’s the Ron Shelton-directed flick that made basketball fun and not some inspirational true story.  However, I’m sure a lot of white guys can relate to going to an outdoor basketball court, getting crap from a Wesley Snipes-like player, and eventually embarrassing them with a cross-over and a fade away jumper.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those players. Think of ME as Dennis Hopper in “Hoosiers.”

Like most Shelton films, “Jump” deals with misfits who become endearing to the audience.  While he’s gone outside of the sports realm with mixed results, see “Hollywood Homicide” as a prime example, his wheelhouse has always been how sports can be romantic and bring people to common ground.  “Jump” tells the story of two hustlers who constantly try to out hustle each other.  Woody Harrelson plays Billy Hoyle, a former college basketball player on the run with his Jeopardy-loving girlfriend, Gloria, played by Rosie Perez, still enjoying her 15-minutes of fame.  Hoyle meets Sidney Deane, Wesley Snipes’ best role outside of “Blade,” a braggadocious street ball player with aspirations of escaping the inner-city.  The irony of Deane is his love for the street, while still trying to escape it and do what he needs for his family, which is really at the heart of the film.  Despite the fact that Hoyle and Deane are always trying to one-up each other and hustle each other, there always seems to be a mutual respect between them.  What I like to pretend sometimes is that “Money Train” is a direct sequel to “Jump” and Jennifer Lopez takes over as Rosie Perez’s character.

“Jump” is in the vein of Shelton’s other sports films, namely “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup.”  The characters feel lived in and the chemistry between Harrelson and Snipes is undeniable.  There are times when you think they hate each other, and the next minute you think they are the best of friends.  It feels like the same relationship “Nuke” LaLoosh and Crash Davis had in “Durham.” Whether how much of the dialogue between Hoyle and Deane was ad-libbed, it feels authentic and something you would normally hear during any pick-up game, anywhere.

There are a few weak points to “Jump.”  Rosie Perez, if you’ve seen her in any movie, can become quite grating after a while.  I don’t know if it’s the voice, the accent, or simply both, but after hearing “Beeeeleeeee!!” about 100 times you’ll want to take a charge from Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer at the same time.  Does that sound a little too erotic?  There is also the subplot of Billy and Gloria being on the run from two gangsters looking for money.  It’s a little weak, and doesn’t add much to the story as a whole.

While some of the characters and story elements are lacking, as a whole, “Jump” is still great, and while the fashion has been left in the past, the film has aged incredibly well.  The jokes are still funny (I mean who doesn’t appreciated a well crafted “Yo Mama” joke) and they took a sport that was lacking any real cinematic flare, and gave it some.  I know I’ll hear crap about this from “Hoosiers” purists, but c’mon!  Oh, we can’t forget that any self-respecting basketball player always goes to Sizzler after a game, just ask Dwyane Wayne.

Fun Fact:  Duane Martin, who played Willie in this film, was also a baller in 1994’s “Above the Rim.”

September 13, 2012

Simplistic TV: Revolution

UNDERWHELMING

Revolution comes to us from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke.  The new captain of the Star Trek franchise and television veteran J.J. Abrams executive produces.  The father of the Iron Man films, Jon Favreau, even directs the pilot.  The concept, a world thrown into chaos from a technological blackout, isn’t entirely original, but still interesting.  So, how do I feel after watching it?  Completely and utterly UNDERWHELMED.  I am sadly short on whelm.  Totally in need of more whelm.  And the fault of this lies mainly with the cast. 

Besides a brief appearance by the consistently good Giancarlo Esposito, the cast is a laundry list of no named actors.  Now, I know the casts of shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Lost were relative unknowns at the start.  However, those actors put out award winning efforts while tackling very original concepts.  The cast of Revolution seems to be phoning in their performances as though they were aged Hollywood superstars….or direct to DVD Wesley Snipes. 
Tracy Spiridakos, who serves as the show’s lead, (Obvious Hunger Games Cash In Attempt By The Way) is as stock as they come.  She doesn’t have enough acting ability to carry a scene, let alone an entire series.  Graham Rogers, who plays her brother, comes off more like a speaking extra than a costar.  The character with the most potential on the show is Uncle Miles, played by Billy Burke of…ugh…Twilight fame.  He’s a mysterious ex soldier who we know little about, other than he’s good at killing.  An actor with some range and charisma could bring a lot to this type of role.  However, Burke sleepwalks through every line he delivers and even parts of his fight scenes. 
In this attention deficit disorder world we live in now, it is hard to have a show that can captivate and keep viewers.  Especially, if the actors don’t convince us to care about the characters they’re playing.  The performances of Revolution’s cast do little to convince me to care.  Watch it…better yet, DVR it…do your laundry…play with your kids…take up stamp collecting…then if you get bored…really bored…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong. 
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