Year: 1992 | Rating: R | Runtime: 1 HR, 24 MIN
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 | Video Resolution: 1080P
Audio: Eng 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French German Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish Portuguese Japanese 2.0 | Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German SDH, Dutch, Korean
Director: Kevin Hooks
Writer: Stewart Raffill, Dan Gordon, David Loughery
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore, Alex Datcher, Bruce Greenwood, Robert Hooks, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Horse, Marc Macaulay, Ernie Lively
There are few actors I miss more in a guilty pleasure kind of way than Wesley Snipes. For almost ten years, from 1989 to 1998 he was a huge star but that changed almost over night and by the early 2000s he was working almost exclusively in the realm of direct to video films and then he went to jail for tax evasion. There’s always the hope of a comeback soon with his upcoming appearance in The Expendables 3 but until then you can enjoy one of his most outrageous action films.
On a flight to Los Angeles airline security trainer and passenger 57, John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) is forced to take on Charles “The Rane of Terror” Rane as he escapes FBI confinement and hijacks the flight. Rane’s plan goes goes off without a hitch except he didn’t count on passenger 57 being along for the ride.
Passenger 57 is not a particularly original film, even during its release in 1992 it was described as being “Die Hard on a Plane.” From the end of the x-ray machine opening to the start of credits Passenger 57 runs an embarrassingly short one hour, seventeen minutes and twenty-eight seconds long. In that short amount of time Wesley Snipes karate chops terrorists, deals with racist country cops and goes to a county fair all while being as cool as the other side of a pillow. His opponent, Charles Rane is chillingly portrayed by Bruce Payne. He is cold, calculating and charming even when he’s committing cold blooded murder; he’s no Alan Rickman from Die Hard but he’s no slouch either. Other co-stars include Tom Sizemore, Bruce Greenwood and a very young Elizabeth Hurley.
There’s nothing that really sets Passenger 57 apart from other action films of the era but that doesn’t take away from the fun that can be had watching it. The most important thing to remember about Passenger 57 is that even though it’s completely ridiculous it has one of the most amusing and terribly great lines of dialogue in cinema history and if that doesn’t make it worth owning I don’t know what is.
The 1080P high definition transfer seen in Passenger 57 is actually quite good especially for a budget release like this. Black levels and detail are generally good. Some shot are occasionally soft but that has more to do with the film being shot anamorphically then with any deficiencies with the transfer. The biggest issue is the video transfer’s lack of “pop” which seems to be a little flat compared with other films of the day.
As with the video the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is good considering its age and the modest costs associated with producing this Blu-ray. Dialogue is well centered and clear and the low end is particularly impressive and will give most home theaters a nice boom. The surround channels are used but at best sparingly which isn’t surprising considering the film’s age, the sound design limitations of the time and the lack of an expensive remaster.
Unsurprisingly Passenger 57 is a nearly bare bones release with the only special feature (if you don’t count Wesley Snipe’s karate abilities) being the original theatrical trailer. It’s an amusing trailer and does an effect job showing the HD improvements over something that looks only marginally better than an old DVD transfer.
So should you purchase Passenger 57 on Blu-ray? That depends on your appreciation of bad action films and Wesley Snipes. Both the video and audio are very good and the lack of special features shouldn’t surprise anyone or keep them picking up this mostly forgotten action gem.
For more Passenger 57 screenshots look below.
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