I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Passenger 57

I have to thank you guys, because I only watched this because it was rated #1 in the suggestions, and I figured I owed it to everybody to do something with those. This is the third time I’ve seen PASSENGER 57, but the first time I properly appreciated it. I always saw it as a pretty eventless poor man’s DIE HARD with one great line for the trailer, but now I can respect it as a solid, no-frills tribute to the abilities of Wesley Snipes. I mean, it’s no BLADE obviously, but it’s better than ART OF WAR 1-2.

First we meet our poor man’s Hans Grueber, though: Bruce Payne as the infamous airplane bomber Charles “Rane of Terror” Rane. He’s escaped capture by repeatedly getting plastic surgery, just like Parker between his first two books, or Michael Knight’s evil cousin Garth. When we first meet Rane he’s about to do go under the knife, and for security reasons he insists on no anesthetic. (Let me tell you man, that’s no way to live.) But then he realizes the FBI is on to him, so he makes a run for it and fails.

One way you know this Charles Rane guy is an asshole is he asks “Have I made myself clear?” I mean, is there any situation where you can ask someone “Have I made myself clear?” and you’re not a fuckin asshole? I don’t think there is.

After an “actually they’re only filming a movie” type fakeout that makes it seem like Wesley is a hijacker, we find out that he’s actually John Cutter, volatile airline security expert. Then an economical montage tells us everything we need to know about him as an action hero: he kneels and burns incense at a shrine (just like Blade), then practices boxing and kickboxing, but this is intercut with flashbacks to the time he tried to foil a convenience store robbery and got his wife killed. So now we know why he’s sad, why he’s sensitive about heroics during hostage situations and also that he kicks ass and looks cool doing it.

(Also it shows how he’s different from Seagal, the Boz,Trejo and most other action heroes, who always successfully foil the convenience/liquor/grocery store robberies that happen in their presence.)

Cutter decides to accept his old friend Sly Dilvecchio (Tom Sizemore)’s offer to become the Vice President of Anti-Terrorism for Atlantic International Airlines, and he takes a flight to Los Angeles to make it official. Gettin high on his own supply. But you remember how the one line that you remember from this movie is Wesley’s piece of racially charged gaming advice?

Well I’m not sure he should be so cocky with his gambling analogies, because he’s experiencing some bad fuckin luck today. First, he happens to take the same flight in which Rane is being transported with only 2 FBI agents guarding him, in clear violation of any security protocol that would happen post 9-11, as well as pre-9-11.

Second, nobody fuckin tells him that that’s going on. If they did I bet he would’ve looked into the security situation and figured out that a bunch of the passengers and airline employees are actually sleeper agents planning to shoot a bunch of people, hijack the plane and help Rane escape.

But even if he’d done that he wouldn’t have prevented himself from awkward run-ins with Marti (Alex Datcher), the flight attendant he chewed out in self defense class who also reminds him of his wife so much that he accidentally calls her “Lisa.”

There are two luck factors in his favor, though:

1. He happens to be in the bathroom when it goes down, so he doesn’t get shot
2. He’s only in there to hide from Marti, so he’s not in the middle of taking a dump or nothin

This was Wesley’s first real action vehicle, the first time we got to see his fighting style as he beats up some guys in the close quarters of the plane. I really like the way he moves, he and his stunt doubles always know what they’re doing. His martial arts trainer Marcus Salgado apparently choreographed the fights uncredited. One of the two stunt coordinators, Jeff Ward, doubled Wesley in MURDER AT 1600 and Bruce Leroy in THE LAST DRAGON. He was also stunt coordinator for other Snipes movies such as BLADE, THE ART OF WAR, and… MO BETTER BLUES?

By the way, on the plane Cutter is seen reading The Art of War, which of course was later the title for the movie THE ART OF WAR. It would’ve also been cool if he was reading Blade comics or the novelization of WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP.

EXECUTIVE DECISION came later, and found more variations on what can happen with good guys sneaking around a hijacked plane. I totally forgot about this, but since Cutter dumps the jet’s fuel they’re forced to land at a small airport in Louisiana, so the last third of the movie is on the ground.

The story is by the guy that directed MAC AND ME, but one of the other credited writers wrote LAKEVIEW TERRACE, which was surprisingly good I thought. Also he wrote STAR TREK V. The director is Kevin Hooks, who was a child actor in SOUNDER, AARON LOVES ANGELA, A HERO AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A SANDWICH, later he was on White Shadow. He started directing TV in the ’80s, then in ’91 I think maybe he went through the hole in the Hollywood wall that Spike Lee made and he directed the Tommy Davidson vehicle STRICTLY BUSINESS, followed by this and a couple others, most notably BLACK DOG I guess. But he didn’t seem to be much of an auteur, so maybe it made sense for him to go back to TV and do Prison Break and shit. You know he’s moving up in the world because he directed the remake of SOUNDER instead of child-acting in it.

There are some subtle signs that P-57 is made by a black director. If you look closely at the carnival near the airport, you’ll see a Confederate flag flying. This is a hint about why the white local sheriff (Ernie Lively) sees Wesley thrown off the plane and then doesn’t believe him about being the head of security. He even has to fight the deputies a little bit, they’re total assholes to him, though they don’t quite get to full Rodney King level beating. Later the head of the FBI shows up and he’s black too, and I thought it would’ve been funny if the sheriff didn’t believe him either. “Yeah, right. A black guy in the FBI? Do I look like I was born yesterday?”

But I don’t think they want the commentary on racism to cut that deep. They deal with it in sort of a light-hearted way, with Cutter and the sheriff having to work together and sort of tossing each other shit back and forth but presumably gaining some respect for each other. Or at least that seems to be the formula they’re going for.

I don’t know if it makes sense that he’s passenger 57. That’s not his seat number or on his ticket or anything. It’s just when they’re doing a head count to make sure everybody’s aboard (pre-hijacking) he happens to be the 57th person counted. I think we all would enjoy it more if it was a more definitive identifying number for him and if it came up like three or four times. “Why is this seat next to passenger 56 empty? WHERE IS PASSENGER 57?” Or, “Which one of you is Passenger 57? We’re going to execute one hostage every 5 minutes until we find out!” That kind of thing.

Bruce Greenwood has a pretty small role as the airline boss who he communicates with on the outside, but this guy is all about covering the corporation’s ass, so he’s different from the cops or generals McClane or Ryback talk to. 27 year old Elizabeth Hurley plays a flight attendant in what I believe is her first American movie. She gets to be cute and flirty and then evil. Pretty good role for a model. Hooks’s dad Robert is also in there as the FBI guy.

I don’t know if this is worth bragging about, but shortly into the opening credits the fusiony slap bass tipped me off that the score was by Stanley Clarke. You might know his work from BOYZ N THE HOOD, ROMEO MUST DIE or THE TRANSPORTER, but he originally was a jazz guy, known largely for the band Return to Forever with Chick Corea. Fusion is kind of like the disco of jazz. I’m always wary of it. But I have to admit I kind of like some of that Return to Forever shit.

Here’s my favorite Stanley Clarke thing I know of, this song from 1988 called “If This Bass Could Only Talk,” which is just him playing while Gregory Hines tap dances:

Anyway, back to 1992. I don’t think this is as dated as some movies from the era. I mean, obviously the airport security has changed drastically, and there’s some pretty bad hair on Marti. But it’s not too bad. The one very early ’90s reference is a joke where Marti convinces an old lady that Cutter is Arsenio Hall. It comes back at the end when the old lady leads the surviving passengers in an Arsenio Hall Show dog pound barking chant thing. So I guess this means that all these traumatized people really believe they were rescued by Arsenio. I hope they never saw the news and found out otherwise. Sometimes the legend is better than the truth.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 at 2:32 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

92 Responses to “Passenger 57”

  1. According to wikipedia, Bruce Payne actually did cause some trouble on a real airplane.
    Here is the quote:

    “In November 2005, Payne was arrested at Heathrow Airport after disembarking a flight from Los Angeles and was later cautioned for using “threatening behaviour”.[158] Payne’s lawyer stated that Payne had simply argued with another passenger who refused to stop using their mobile phone after being asked to do so by flight crew.”[159]

    What kind of a fool argues with Bruce Payne on a commercial airplane? Did they not see that movie with 57 passangers or whatever it was called…?

  2. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the other passenger would have been Wesley Snipes?

  3. Vern, I have an awkward question for you and I apologize beforehand, but sometimes curiosity gets the best of us and I don’t meany any harm

    anyway, the question is, Vern….are you black?

  4. It’s funny (or sad?) how the movie world more often than not portray terrorists as people who earn their living by planting bombs and taking hostages without any apparent reason. Do script writers watch the news at all? They might as well call them serial suicide bombers!

  5. @Griff: Figured it out, huh?

  6. Figured out…..what?

  7. “Put yourself in my place Mr. Cutter. What would you do if you were me?”
    “Kill myself.”

    Passenger 57 is a fun if unremarkable early ’90s action flick. From the Kenny G jazz driving sequence to the melange on late ’80s early ’90s hairstyles (slicked back Wall Street, hair band, etc.) it’s a decent Wesley Snipes (MAJOR LEAGUE) good guy vehicle.

    The action clearly staged if too close up, you get Hawk the deputy from Twin Peaks getting beaten to death with a golf club, and it looks like Wesley does most of his own stunts. There’s a minor action flaw where Wesley, after repeatedly kicking Rane while walking on the seats, misses a prime cockpunching opportunity but he does kick him in the nuts before “deboarding” him.

    The redneck stuff is sorta amusing, they keep calling or referring to Wesley as “boy”. The whole sequence gets a classic bad dialogue setup as the plane is landing and the sheriff says, “Biggest damn Cessna I ever saw.” That’s some gooey cheese there, boy.

    The one real issue I wanted to bring up is the classification of this one as a “Die Hard on a _____” film. It shares some characteristics but taking Die Hard as the template:

    has credits sequence, opens with villain, doesn’t start at the beginning of the event, doesn’t stay in one “space”, villain doesn’t instigate situation with profit motive

    The best Die Hard clones (Die Hard 2, Under Siege, Sudden Death) all follow the template: open with hero, smash stamp title, pseudo-real time from the beginning, scene of villainous horde setting up shop, etc. Sure it’s got the lone hero and outside help and a mostly singular location of action but it’s missing a lot of elements. This takes nothing away from Passenger 57, but I’m curious, what “makes” a Die Hard clone? And does this one really qualify?

  8. Don’t mean to sidetrack this, but I like jazz fusion. I preferred the original Mahavishnu Orchestra line-up but Return to Forever was a pretty hot band in the 70’s, at least in it’s classic line-up with Al Di Meola and Lenny White as well as Chick and Stanley. That period of jazz, as epitomized by Miles Davis’ switch to electric instruments with in the late 60’s that lead to BITCHES BREW, is not remembered so fondly by some jazz critics/historians. The entire sub-genre is basically a footnote in the otherwise fascinating Ken Burns PBS documentary series.

  9. With all due respect to Ken Burns, fusion is a footnote only because a bunch of critics and historians under-prioritized the genre far out of proportion to the lasting value of the works. I find it laughable that they seriously think anyone working today apart from Sufjan Stevens is trying particularly hard to incorporate Gil Evans into their work, despite all the attention that kind of stuff gets in the official histories of jazz; yet you can hear the sounds and strategies of fusion in almost everything.

    I’d be willing to argue that ON THE CORNER is more important to today’s music than THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO was to 1980s alternative guitar bands.

  10. It has been ages since I have seen this film. I have watched it a number of times back in the day and enjoyed it, but have not been compelled to revisit recently. However, this review makes me want to watch it again. I think AIR FORCE ONE is more of a “DIE HARD on a plane” film than P57.

    Vern, I love your Amazon related items recommendation of Heinz 57.

  11. I wonder if they’ll remake this movie some day with a Native American in the lead role so he can tell the terrorist “Always bet on red!”

  12. This totally brings us one notch closer to getting that COLOR OF NIGHT review I’ve been voting for for the past 4 months.

  13. Ah, good ‘ol Passenger 57. Actually saw this in a theater back in the day. I like how the same blonde extra with the pink dress gets off the plane three different times….Anyway, one of the more amusing Die Hards On A whatever.

    Vern, sorry to go off-topic, but I’d love to see you review the new Criterion HEAVEN’S GATE DVD.

  14. “The one very early ’90s reference is a joke where Marti convinces an old lady that Cutter is Arsenio Hall.”
    While in an episode of MARTIAL LAW, Arsenio’s character pretended to be Wesley Snipes and even said “Always Bet On Black”, which by the way, I think should be disqualified from Great One Liner Hall of Fame because he has to set it up himself in such a terrible way.

    “Do you play roulette?”
    “Occasionally.”
    “Always bet on black!”

  15. Griff – re-read the art of rap; Vern throws down some pretty unsubtle hints to whether or not he’s brown-skinned.

    Clubside Chris – besides the European villain and his entourage I don’t think there is too much to compare to Die Hard. Charles is right Air Force One is definitely more deserving of the “Die Hard on a Plane” comparison.

  16. I believe Vern has said that he’s white a number of times, such as in the opening paragraph of GOOD HAIR review, but who knows how much of his persona is true. He’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a Man With No Name poncho.

  17. The Original... Paul

    December 13th, 2012 at 2:57 am

    I much prefer “Executive Decision” as a movie that’s actually good / tense, but I still have a lot of love for “Passenger 57”. Bruce Payne is fully aware of how stupid his entire role is, and boy, does he play that character.

    And of course you’ve got the epic stunt-casting of Liz Hurley as a terrorist. Which I love.

    Passenger 57 isn’t a good film, but it’s definitely a fun one.

  18. The Original... Paul

    December 13th, 2012 at 2:59 am

    The racial stuff is interesting though. I wouldn’t know what a Confederate flag looks like, so obviously I wasn’t in a position to spot it or notice its significance. But the Sheriff / Cutter dynamic is one of the things that makes the movie an interesting bad action movie, rather than just a dull bad action movie.

  19. Stu, you’re absoloutely right. What if Payne said he’s never played roulette? Wesley would be like “uh…. well… if you DID play roulette… umm…. I’d suggest it would be a good idea to… you know… bet on black…?”

  20. How in the hell can you NOT know what a Confederate flag looks like?

    Hint: It’s the other flag that isn’t the American flag (I will presume you are at least possibly familiar with the American flag) that is prominently featured in Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, Glory, Gettysburg, The Dukes Of Hazzard…..

  21. Interesting to see Vern have a bit of a change of heart on this one. I recently found it in a $5 bin and bought it and revisited it after all these years and did think he was a bit too harsh on it during the previous review after looking back at it. It’s no DIE HARD 2 but still holds up pretty well and is much more fun than something like EXECUTIVE DECISION or AIR FORCE ONE.

  22. Yeah this is a perfect Saturday afternoon matinee movie. Aims modestly but is pretty successful in what it sets out to do. The fight scenes are practically classics compared with the shit we have to deal with now. Also, my first thought at the trailer was “how can they make a whole movie set on a plane? It’s a freaking tube!” But I thought the “cheat” of getting them off the plane and then back on for the finale was a clever way to spice things up. (And later used in both Con Air and Under Siege 2).

    By the way, I swear somebody told me the villain used Capoiera as his fighting style, but I’m not so sure about that. I can’t imagine the powers of Capoiera from Only the Strong being used for evil.

  23. Paul — the Confederate flag looks like this.

    http://images.wikia.com/reddeadredemption/images/8/8f/Confederate-flag-1-1024×768.jpg

    probably worth knowing what it looks like if you’re going to be watching American movies. You’ll see it used as a quick visual suggestion about many characters in hundreds of movies.

  24. In stores here you see a lot of clothes with phony American stuff on them (made up sports teams, universities etc), so sometimes you see people wearing giant Confederate flags, completely oblivious to what it means to many Americans. I’m guilty of this myself. I used to have a hoodie, probably designed in China or Bangladesh or something, that had a small confederate flag patch on the arm. I had no idea what it was or what it meant until much later.

  25. I don’t blame Paul for not knowing it. It would be helpful for watching certain westerns and stuff but it’s not a part of his culture. Actually it’s kind of cool if it’s forgotten to history.

  26. Jack Burton – I guess I remembered it wrong this whole time but I always thought the guy said no and Wesley Snipes said “Well here’s a tip for you. Always bet on black!” An extra sentence made up in my mind but I think it still works! :) I also always thought it was silly how Bruce Payne was a bomber but he was like so hard for Snipes to beat when they fought. It didn’t even seem like he knew any martial arts.

  27. Paul – I’m sure you’ve seen a Confederate flag somewhere, even if you didn’t know what it was

    the Confederate flag is primarily used by people in the south because they think it looks cool and it’s become visual shorthand for “the south”, it’s not always supposed to have racial connotations, but it is still pretty tasteless

    however it’s still a lot different than using a Nazi flag, that’s for sure

  28. The Confederate flag is the embodiment of the darkest elements of American history. It means one thing: white supremacist anti-democracy empire of slavery. After they destroyed the United States of America, the Confederacy was going to conquer and enslave South America. And everybody damn well SHOULD know what the hell a Confederate flag looks like, and exactly what it means, because there’s still plenty of would-be Confederates around who would happily run that thing up the flagpole the first chance they get.

    “….the great truth: that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery–subordination to the superior race–is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based solely on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” – Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens.

  29. The Original... Paul

    December 13th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Oh, THAT flag.

    Griff – you’re right, I recognise it, but I had no clue what the historical / cultural significance of it is. There are things that I’d recognise immediately – the KKK burning cross, for example – but the significance of the flag is really lost on me. Hell, even you guys have different ideas of what it “means”, and it’s part of your culture. It’s not part of mine. If I’d associate it with anything, it would probably be historical re-enactments.

  30. The Original... Paul

    December 13th, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Also JD, I haven’t seen any of those films that you mentioned above (and don’t plan to). Again, not a part of my particular culture.

  31. An often appropriate quote from NewsRadio for JD: “You really need to stop getting your history from Gore Vidal.”

  32. JD – what you say is true, but a lot of people still think of the flag as simply visual shorthand for “the south” and don’t really intend or think of any racial connotations, as clueless as that is

    like for example the flag being on the General Lee in the Dukes of Hazzard, the producers of that show didn’t intend that to be a racist statement, just that they thought it fit since the show was set in the south

    I’m not defending the use of it though, it really is tasteless at best and offensive at worst

  33. JD; “How in the hell can you NOT know what a Confederate flag looks like?”

    Do you know the difference between an English flag and the Union Jack?

  34. “Do you know the difference between an English flag and the Union Jack?”

    uh, are you talking about the two flags where one is white and red and the other is red and blue? (I did not google anything)

  35. oh and the English flag is white and red and the Union Jack is red and blue, correct?

  36. UIntil a few years ago I didn’t even know that there was another flag outside of the Union Jack, so there is this.

  37. Red, white and blue, yes. But I mentioned it mostly as a comment on what JD thinks Paul should know.

  38. Clubside, speaking as a South Carolinian, quit drying to ameliorate the indefensible. Stick to your twiddly code wonking.

  39. I guess this isn’t really the forum for it, but I just saw the news about the shooting in Connecticut. Fuck! When’s this shit gonna stop?!

  40. Connected to all this Connecticut shit, I came across an asshole on twitter who claimed if guns were banned, we´d have knife sprees instead. Yes, that makes perfect sense…*sigh*

  41. That’s inferior trolling. What he should have said was that if all those kindergarteners had been armed, they would have been able to stop the shooting spree before it happened.

    Seriously, though, this is the fucking worst.

  42. I don’t know what kind of weapons this asshole had, but I can see no downside to banning privately owned hand guns. None what so ever. I’ve lived a long life, half of it in a dangerous line of work. And apart from a short stint in the army, I’ve had no use for a gun at any point. And I live in a country that has more guns per citizen than any other country in the world.

  43. I’m pretty fucking disgusted right now, just in general

    something’s gone seriously fucking wrong and something needs to change

  44. It’s not just as simple as banning guns though, right? For one thing there’s bears and mountain lions and shit like that to deal with over in the US but also like it or not (probably not, I’m guessing) the right to bare arms is in the constitution and fucking with the constitution is something I gather most people won’t stand for no matter what their political affiliation. Also the fact remains that this kind of thing seems like a particularly American problem – there’s plenty of parts of the world with gun control laws similar to those in the US where things like this just don’t happen (or don’t happen with anywhere near the same frequency), so banning firearms could at best stop a particularly horrible symptom of the disease but it doesn’t really get to the root of the problem. It seems like it wouldn’t be a bad start though.

  45. I hate when this website gets political but I’ll throw in my two cents.

    If the U.S. banned guns, wouldn’t you still be able to buy guns illegally? If I REALLY wanted a gun I’m sure I’d be able to buy one somewhere somehow. Kind of like how heroin is illegal here but I’m sure I could buy some if I really felt the need to. The one thing I don’t understand is how people are legally allowed to own assault rifles and the like. Owning a revolver or a shotgun is reasonable for home defense or something but an assault rifle?

    I keep hearing “we need to change something” when things like this happen. The problem is, when people say “we need to change something” they really mean “we need to pass new laws to keep things like this from happening again.” Cause passing laws is always the answer to everything right? We could go all Equilibrium and take our daily dose of prescription drugs so nobody every kills anybody ever again (oh wait, thats what we’re doing now and its clearly not working). Unless we (the U.S.) start addressing the root of the problem then these kinds of things will only get worse.

    Mode7 made a good point about other countries not having the amount of crazy gunmen incidents that the U.S. has. Why is that? The only logical explanation is the culture us Americans live in. American culture is basically a giant rat race predicated on guilt/shame/and penis envy. Nobody and nothing is ever good enough. Basically American culture tells us that if you’re not a millionaire/prom king/quarterback of the football team/valedictorian/high school president type then you’re worthless.
    They want us all to strive to be that person but the problem is only one of us can be that person. So when 99.99% of us don’t reach that goal, there’s a tremendous feeling of guilt and shame. Its all or nothing. American sports is a microcosm of our culture (and Americans love their sports). If you don’t win the championship then the season was wasted. There’s no real acknowledgement of having good year. Its championship or bust. Now a lot of great things have been accomplished with this attitude. There’s a reason why the U.S. has become as powerful as it is, and the biggest reason is the “championship or bust” attitude. It comes at a price though. Would you rather be 2nd place and happy or 1st place and miserable? One of the reasons why Glengarry Glen Ross is one of my favorite movies of all time is because its a representation of American culture. First place wins a cadillac, second place wins a set of steak knives, third place is your fired. If you’re not in first place we don’t give a shit about you. The U.S. is really good at making its citizens feel like losers.

    God help you if you’re deemed “different”. I’m not even talking about religion, sexual orientation, or race,. If you’re introverted, enjoy sex, smoke cigarettes, are obese, not as wealthy as the people around you, “ugly”, etc., be prepared to be constantly looked down upon. We can’t just leave these fucking people alone, we have to constantly remind them how inferior they are. We always have to demonize things we deem are “different” or “unhealthy”. For example I know many women who don’t masturbate because it makes them feel guilty. Jesus, is this the 1600’s? Old, outdated, puritan bullshit. Lots of repressed emotions and desires. Lots of feelings of inferiority. Add all this up and you have drug abuse, school shootings, suicides, the list goes on. There’s a lot of angry people who resent this culture they live in. Surely we’re not the only country in the world with these kinds of problems but its shameful that as advanced as we are technologically, we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to our culture and attitudes.

    Sorry for the long rant, especially since its in the Passenger 57 section. Time to have a cigarette and watch people give me strange looks.

  46. I know that it’s more about the culture and how people are brought up. But since all these crazy gunmen use legal weapons, couldn’t we just try to make them a lot harder to get hold of. Maybe if this teacher’s son had to go down town and look up some shady dealer that charged him 3000 bucks for a 38. with 4-5 bullets, instead of using his mom’s guns and limitless amount ammo, he’d give up on the idea?

  47. ThomasCrown442 – what you say is true, I’m someone who a lot of people would probably deem worthless, lazy, a good for nothing and it’s hard me to not let it bring me down, thankfully I’m sane enough to never want to kill a bunch of random people

    but another problem you didn’t mention is that here in America, we have the attitude that nothing is never NOT someone’s fault, are you poor? fat? failed at education? then it’s YOUR fault for not being smart enough or being too lazy, nobody ever accepts the idea that sometimes life just deals someone a bad hand

  48. I used to feel that way a lot Griff, it gets easier as you get older. Even if things don’t improve in any material way, you just stop giving a fuck what other people think of you and do your own thing. It feels pretty good. I used to watch FIGHT CLUB a lot too, that helps.

  49. I agree Mode7. As you get older you realize that its all bullshit and you end up leading your own life. Instead of going all Fight Club and blowing shit up, you move on with your life for better or worse. Why take it out on other people? Some people can’t get to that stage. It seems like most of these crazy gunmen are in their early 20’s. It’s that grey area between high school and adulthood. For me personally, that was a very dark time and its a breeding ground for young people who are filled with hatred.

  50. The U.S. constitution gives you the right to bear arms.

    Specifically, THESE arms. http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~ieahcweb/revtest/guns/gunindex.html

    Difficult to imagine someone going on a musket-killing spree.

  51. Why’s it always men that do this shit? What the fuck is wrong with us? Is it something that we have that women don’t, or something woman have that we don’t? Sometimes it seems as if men just have a harder time living in this society we built for ourselves than women do. Fuckin’ savages we are, dunno why they put up with us.

  52. I was really hoping if this conversation had a detour, it would have been into a lively discussion about jazz fusion. Alas, Friday changed everything. The horror and shock of it all didn’t settle in until a few hours, and I shed a few tears over it. Crying is an odd occurence with me. I’ve been to four funerals in my lifetime, and while I was generally bummed to be at each one my eyes didn’t get wet at all. When I was a kid I cried in the middle of sad scenes in family comedies, embarrassing stuff like that.

    Anyway. I’ve spent most of this weekend just listening to music and only catching some TV when the mood catches me. I just watched a bit of CBS SUNDAY MORNING, which along with 60 MINUTES is the closest thing to news that I watch anymore. The first segments were about the shooting. One in particular was about the changing face of religion in America, how people are moving away from organized religions in particular but not giving up faith. It was a little inspiring to see something I sensed for a long time was coming to fruition enough to be on a news program of that caliber.

    I don’t know what to make of all this, in myself. I’m scared because I have 4 nephews and a niece all in grade school/high school now. It isn’t a new fear, when some of them were babies (and others not even born yet) Columbine instilled the fear I had as an uncle. I know however that what I’m feeling is likely a modicum compared to the fear my sisters and their husbands feel, whether they show it or not.

    I’m angry that Washington took the stand of “not today”, when it came to gun control. On the heels of what Obama said about marijuana legalization, that’s two things I’m angry at our president about. The only solace I have is knowing that the winter hand accessory who dare not speak his name that we had to deal with until last month won’t be telling us it’s because he was raised by a single mother that this happened. Obama is visiting Newtown today, and maybe with what he sees he might decide when he gets back today is the day. I hope so.

  53. Paul: What is your culture, Atlantis? It’s part of human culture. And if you’re not planning on ever seeing LINCOLN or GLORY (or The Dukes Of Hazzard) how can you call yourself a film fan? Don’t take pride in ignorance. You start to sound like too many my fellow Americans.

    Clubside: I get my history from books, Ken Burns, and wise teachers.

    Griff: Agreed. And it is part of Southern history, and American history, and it should be displayed and on view. We should never forget it and what it means. It just amazed me that somebody could not know it represented the essence of American racism. Considering how much American racism has fucked up the rest of the world everybody should be aware of it.

    pegsman: Actually, I did, but based on earlier responses it sounds like that backfired a little on you, pal. Kinda reminds me of that joke on the Simpsons where Apu is studying to get his citizenship and identifies a flag as dating from the period before Alaska was ratified as a state. : )

    And as for the Connecticut shootings, keep in mind that the vast majority of pro-gun Americans–the ones making sure that assault rifles and 100-round drum clips are available over the counter with no limits and no background checks–are the same ones whose ancestors were flying the Confederate flag.

  54. JD, it’s pretty ethnocentric of you to assume the Confederate flag is such a universal symbol. It’s not a well known piece of iconography outside the United States. Plus I think it’s pretty dickish of you to call someone ignorant for not wanting to see a film that may not have the same cultural and historical significance for him as it does for you. I bet there’s plenty of foreign films of similar cultural importance that you haven’t seen.

  55. Yeah, I don’t think it’s fair to expect Paul to know the Confederate flag when I don’t even know the flags of actual existing countries. But I do wish he would watch Lincoln – after all the damn king and queen movies we end up watching over here you’d hope somebody overseas would be able to appreciate a great president movie.

  56. LINCOLN doesn’t come out in most European countries until late January, so you’ve still got a while to convince him.

  57. JD, there’s no backfire here. There’s a big difference between not knowing about the ancient confederate flag and the current English one.

  58. Crusty: I’m not being ethnocentric. I suspect that if you’re even somewhat aware of world history and politics the Confederate flag is an extremely well-known piece of iconography. So what if it doesn’t have the same cultural signifigance for him? How nationalist is that attitude? Again, it’s about human history, which we should all be interested in. To proudly declare what you DON’T know and have no interest in learning is, I’m sorry, ignorant. Y’know, I’ve seen GALLIPOLI, NED KELLY (unfortunately), THE PROPOSITION, THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH, MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, RAZORBACK, and BMX BANDITS–all films of great cultural importance to a certain land down under, right?

    Pegs: When virtually every other regular poster responds to your query with, “Uh, what’s the difference? There’s a difference? What are you talking about?”, that’s a backfire. And the Confederate flag was not flown by the Spartans during the Pelopenessian War or something, it’s not “ancient”. It’s not even part of a dead past. It was the flag of a “nation” during the 1860s, founded on racism and slavery, and the ideals it represented, and the flag itself, are all still very much alive and well in the US today.

    Look, my point was and is that this is not some extremely obscure minor historical element that even Americans don’t remember. I’m not going, “WHAT?! You don’t know what the Rockville Peaches team uniforms looked like?!? How the hell can you not know about the Women’s Baseball League of 1943 to 1955? So what if no one in your home country plays baseball!? What kind of ignorant….I mean if you don’t know your baseball history, which obviously everybody SHOULD, then you MUST have seen the one feature film in cinema history that deals with this topic!”

    One of the very FIRST feature films, BIRTH OF A NATION, from 1914, dealt with the American Civil War and has Confederate flags all over it; and one of the major films of THIS year, LINCOLN, does the same and has Confederate flags in it. In between, the flag and it’s related idealogy has been in American movies beyond counting. The whole world is so saturated by American media (as I pointed out, Dukes Of Hazzard) that I was just truly bewildered somebody couldn’t know what it was.

    BUT: Paul DID, in a follow-up post, say, “Oh, THAT flag…”, from which I infer he realized it was the stars ‘n bars pattern rednecks and racists display in every biker movie or whatever. Which is really all I meant: I don’t expect everybody to know every little detail about it, or the Confederacy. I just found it hard to understand that someone wouldn’t recognize it as–well, “THAT flag.” And it turns out he did, so the whole argument is basically irrelevant anyway.

  59. I’m not really sure if I get what you want from us, JD, but since Griff and CJ become “virtually every other regular poster” in your book, I can tell that this is something you really burn for. Yes, we have seen the confederate flag, and we too hate it because even here in Scandinavia it’s used by right wing trucker assholes who seriously think that the world would have been a better place if the south had won the civil war. My point, not unlike Vern’s, was that it’s not that important to be able to identify it, especially if you’re not up to scratch on current flags. It’s not an important flag.

  60. “It’s not an important flag.”

    So posts the man from possibly the whitest place on Earth.

    Tell ya what, Pegs. You get off your fjord, and you go fight the bloodiest civil war in human history to free millions of black countrymen and end slavery. Then come back and tell us it’s not an important flag.

    (And if somebody posted they didn’t know what the Vikings were, or who Hans Christian Andersson was, my response would be the same–how the hell / why the hell would somebody not know that?)

    “Hey Sweden!”

    “They’re Norwegian, MacReady.”

  61. Guys, let’s not fight. DJANGO UNCHAINED will be here soon to give us all a quick history lesson. If you don’t know, now you know.

  62. JD, but the south didn’t win. Why bother remembering their flag? You really should be glad that Paul didn’t remember it straight away. I bet a lot of people here in Europe doesn’t remember what the German or Norwegian nazi flag look like. Good! Doesn’t mean that they don’t hate the nazis, but as a continent we’ve chosen not to let the symbols of the past be used by anyone any more. Not even by the neo nazis. If you take away the symbols you take away a lot of the power that lies in them. You should too. America’s cultural take on the world has seen to that the rest of us know absolutely everything there is to know about you – for good or bad. That some of the bad things are forgotten to give room for better things is a positive thing, isn’t it?

  63. Majestyk, Tarantino has promised not to let Django kill general Lee or something like that, but I bet we will leave the theater feeling that slavery has ended for good!

  64. The DIE HARD IN A… knockoff I dispute is SPEED. SPEED is not DIE HARD ON A BUS. There’s only one terrorist, he’s not even on the bus with Keanu, and the bus is clearly more of a disaster movie scenario. That was lazy blurbing on that one.

    PASSENGER 57 is DIE HARD ON A PLANE even though they land the plane briefly. They landed CON AIR for a bit too. Theres been more than one DIE HARD ON A PLANE. AIR FORCE ONE was just DIE HARD ON THE PRESIDENT’S PLANE, and EXECUTIVE DECISION was more of a slow burn DIE HARD ON A PLANE. SNAKES ON A PLANE was DIE HARS ON A PLANE with the boa constrictor as Hans Gruber and the asp as Karl.

  65. That’s what I was looking for Fred, a discussion on what makes a “Die Hard on a _____”.

    I agree that SPEED doesn’t count, but neither do PASSENGER 57, CON AIR, EXECUTIVE DECISION or SNAKES ON A PLANE unless we expand the definition. To me a true “Die Hard…” follows the rules of: opens with the hero, has a forward moving same day narrative, a single action area, and involves a menacing group with an agenda. That’s why AIR FORCE ONE works but not the others. In terms of the DIE HARD series only DIE HARD 2 fits unless you want to count all of New York as a single location in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE or all of D.C. and the surrounding area in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. I guess I include UNDER SIEGE 2 DARK TERRITORY even though it doesn’t open with the hero, so that’s what I was looking for. What characteristics make a “Die Hard on a _____”?

  66. I think there are some similarities between it and DIE HARD, and I think McTiernan said some of his ideas for a sequel leading up to WITH A VENGEANCE wound up in SPEED. Quite a few people that worked on DH also worked on Speed (Both Fox films, De Bont was McTiernan’s cinematographer for DH, and Jackson De Govia served as production designer for both films). But overall it doesn’t feel like “DIE HARD ON A BUS”, it feels more like a Bruckheimer movie.

  67. I’d say that the main hero being an everyman who is only there by coincidence is a vital part of the “DIE HARD on a…” movie, which disqualifies contenders like AIR FORCE ONE. Some examples I can think of are SUDDEN DEATH, TOY SOLDIERS, HALF PAST DEAD and COMMAND PERFORMANCE.

    I believe DIE HARD 3 and 4 were pitched as “DIE HARD in a city” and “DIE HARD in a country”.

  68. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 17th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    JD – it’s celebrating ignorance to say I’m not particularly interested in a particular genre of movies? I’m not saying it’s a GOOD thing – or a bad thing, come to that – that I don’t know much about American history, it’s just a simple fact. The subject doesn’t interest me. And look, there are westerns and war films that I’ve enjoyed, but they’ve generally been the exceptions. I might see “Lincoln” or “The Assassination of Jesse James” when they come on TV just because they’ve had such good reviews. I wouldn’t seek them out because basically they don’t interest me beyond the fact that the majority of people say they’re worth seeing.

    Look, I can’t watch mafia movies. I’ve made no secret of that on this forum. I find just everything about them – the settings, the characters, even the accents – to be so completely alien to anything I can relate to that I might as well be watching two hours of spiders interacting with one another. That doesn’t mean that mafia movies are bad, it just means that the genre isn’t for me. It’s purely subjective.

    The vast majority of my favorite films are either classic action films, spy or techno thrillers, straight whodunnits, or horror movies with a psychological bent. Again there are exceptions, but those types of film generally are the ones that I’ll go and pay money for.

    Flip the argument, JD. If somebody told you that a film was really good, but it happened to be from a genre that you have no interest in, would YOU go out of your way to see it?

  69. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 17th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    As far as “Die Hard on a…” questions go, I could name a few contenders from the late sixties and early seventies that followed those “rules”. Clubside, I didn’t like “Air Force One” at all, but I think I agree with your overall argument. All these films have their own unique parts. I mean, if by calling a film like SPEED “Die Hard on a bus” the implication is that it’s a completely unoriginal film that retreads another, better film and adds little or nothing of its own, then I’d have to say that that’s insane. Love it or hate it – and most people seem to love it – there’s little doubt that “Speed” does its own thing.

  70. But is he really an Everyman in that sense CrustaceanHate? He’s a cop so he has some training, just as Jean-Claude was a fireman in SUDDEN DEATH and Seagal had all sorts of training in the closest DIE HARD spin, UNDER SIEGE.

    Man, if we’re gonna narrow the requirements enough to include TOY SOLDIERS, would Jean Luc’s MASTERMINDS qualify? At least AIR FORCE ONE has a primary protagonist with sidekick(s) not a gaggle of would-be heroes.

  71. John McClane is absolutely an Everyman, and that’s precisely what makes DIE HARD so refreshing and awesome. It’s the defining characteristic of DIE HARD. Yes, he has training, but he’s not an invincible action hero, he’s just a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time who succeeds through sheer bloody perseverance. The fact that he’s just some guy who had nothing to do with the bad guys plan is what makes him such a hero.

    Yes, okay, I’ll admit I was being a little bit tongue-in-cheek when I stuck TOY SOLDIERS on there, but my point still stands.

  72. Not to derail this again but c’mon Paul, I think SPEED is awesome, it may not be a great “film” but it’s surely a fun movie. And even in your dark heart you can’t find the love in this line:

    “Oh… in two hundred years we’ve gone from ‘I regret that I have but one life to give for my country’ to ‘fuck you’?”

    Yeah, CrustaceanHate, I see where you’re coming from, but how indestructible is Harrison Ford in AIR FORCE ONE? He’s an Everyman who just happens to be President. Seagal gets wounded more in the two UNDER SIEGEs than any of his other films even if he shrugs off the wounds inexplicably over time. I think the (mostly) alone in a situation where shit goes down is the key ingredient, not the Everyman thing. In fact the wording, “Die Hard on a _____” implies the singular location is more important, which is why I’m asking what constitutes inclusion. I see you’re saying the takeaway from DIE HARD is the Everyman hero, where I see all the common bits I’ve listed above.

    And I just ordered the TOY SOLDIERS DVD lol

    Just finished watching the original UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. The closing theme, “Body Count”, is playing lmfao

    Lousy MASTERMINDS was never released on DVD anywhere in the world. A 1997 movie can you fucking believe it?

  73. To be honest I don’t remember much about AIR FORCE ONE, except for “Get off my damn plane!”. I guess my problem wasn’t that he was invulnerable, it was that he wasn’t just some guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s the President and he’s on Air Force One. He’s in the right place at the wrong time. Or the wrong place at the right time. Or something. You’re right though, they were clearly trying to go for a everyman, tough-guy President (which was probably a much more appealing idea back in the 90s), so it definitely counts.

    Anyway, I think I’m confusing “what is the key component that makes DIE HARD awesome and memorable?” with “what makes a film deserve DIE HARD on a ___ tag?”, which are two completely different questions.

  74. I don’t think there’s a strict definition to a DIE HARD on a ____. UNDER SIEGE was the original DIE HARD on a ____, because it has an outnumbered hero who happens to be in a location taken over by “terrorist” criminals, who has to sneak around and pick them off and try to get help from the outside. But he’s not an everyman at all, we hear all about his skills and medals.

    SPEED I consider DIE HARD on a bus, even though it doesn’t have the same qualities. But it’s like DIE HARD because it’s a hero in a limited location who has to use creativity and limited resources to find ways to save himself and hostages from a criminal mastermind.

    So my answer is that there are many different aspects to DIE HARDness that can make a movie DIE HARD-esque, making it possible to have more than one very different definition of a DIE HARD on a ____. I wouldn’t want to limit myself to one.

  75. When do I get my Les Miserables action figure?

    “En garde, Valjean! I advise you to defend thyself against the wrath of my baritone”.

    “Take this under advisement, connard mauve herbe!” (smotes him with libretto).

    It’s Die Hard In A 19th Century French Prison. Oh, snap!

  76. Having just re-watched all four DIE HARDS I think it’s the sense of urgency that make them work. It’s more the confinement of time than space that make McClane’s struggles exciting. He have to do this before that happen. Not many movies are able to copy that – obviously.

  77. One day they’re going to make DIE HARD, TWO GUYS AND A PIZZA PLACE. Featuring Ted McGinley as the uptight authority figure.

  78. Didn’t they make a big deal in AIR FORCE ONE about the president’s glorious military record? Not that I’m looking to disqualify it from the ranks of DIE HARD ON A SOMETHING OR OTHERs; it certainly comes closer to the archetype than SPEED or PASSENGER 57.

    The stupidest thing about modern-day use of that “Confederate flag” is that it’s not the Confederate flag. The real Stars and Bars looked like

    The thing people stick on their truck bumpers nowadays is the Confederate navy jack, or at best a stretched version of the Confederate battle flag.

  79. “Looked like this.” URL fail.

  80. I’ve always felt that Die Hard 3 doesn’t necessarily break the enclosed space rule. New York is shot in a claustrophobic manner, from the way that McClane has to deal with traffic to their time in the subway system. It just happens that this time the enclosed space is an entire city. This is also the problem with any sequels. You just can’t go anywhere else from utilizing an entire city as a playground, and directors these days have an absolutely terrible sense of space.

  81. Well it’s arguable that it doesn’t have to be an enclosed space, just an extreme situation the villain has control over that the hero is stuck in.

  82. Stu, does that make SAW “DIE HARD in a filthy bathroom”?

  83. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 19th, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Clubside – not disagreeing with you on “Speed”, it’s just a film that a small but vocal minority of people on this site seemed to have a really negative reaction to at one point, and I’m not sure why. To me it’s one of those films that defines the term “thrill ride”. Yeah, it’s no “Robocop” (although I love that it uses the old eighties action movie trend of giving your villain a really silly unthreatening name – I mean, “Howard Payne”? Might as well call him “Clarence Bodicker”) but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

  84. Right there with you Paul. I think the only reason for the name in Robocop is so the other characters can make sarcastic pronunciations of “Clarence” at a couple of points. Of course it could be one of those funny backstory bits about how he turned out the way he did because he was teased as a kid and not just because he was Kurtwood Smith lol

    I’m just glad we’re getting the chance to talk about this topic here and having some fun with it. I like that Vern and a few others have looser requirements for “DIE HARD on a _____”. I also like the few that follow a pattern very closely like I mentioned.

    I tracked down the VHS for MASTERMINDS and as is my wont when adding to my XBMC collection grabbed the trailer off of YouTube. It even fucking has a “we have a Die Hard situation here” line in it lol is that the only time a DIE HARD knockoff was so referential?

  85. Paul: Yes, and Yes. I would watch a film that has no relation to my life. That’s called intellectual curiosity and empathy for other people. George Lucas didn’t look at Kurosawa’s films and say, “What is this bullshit?! Medieval Japan??? This has no relation to Northern California! There’s no hamburgers, no rock ‘n roll, no hot rods, no drive-ins–forget it!”

    If you don’t LIKE certain movies, fine–I can’t stand most of the garbage that passes for comedies these days–but saying you can’t stand something because it’s foreign or alien too you…I just don’t understand that.

    Pegsman: If you’re ever in America, I’d recommend going by Houston’s 5th Ward, or 123rd Street in Harlem, and explaining your theories about American history to any groups of young men who might be hanging out on the corner. Alternately, you could do the same thing at a Florida Tea Party rally, or a Louisiana gun show. You’ll find both audiences hold extremely passionate feelings regarding the Civil War and the contemporary relevance of the Confederate flag.

  86. Vern: I’d like to recommend you take your essay comparing Die Hard and “Nothing Lasts Forever” and expand it into a book-length study of all the Die Hard imitations.

  87. clubside, does that mean we can call BURIED DIE HARD IN A COFFIN from now on?

    JD, I bet they do. But at the same time I’m pretty sure they’ll forgive Paul for not remembering what the flag looks like straight away.

  88. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 19th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    JD – the difference is that I like a great many films about feudal Japan. I even like some Westerns and some war movies. It’s pretty safe to say that none of those three topics do or have ever had any personal relevance to me, other than the fact that I’ve lived through wars and lost a couple of friends to them.

    I cannot, for the life of me, bring myself to care about anybody in “Goodfellas” or “Casino”. Not saying they’re bad films – from what I saw, they’re definitely not – they’re just not for me. I don’t have some kind of moral perogative to “care” about anything and everything that’s ever been put into a movie, despite what the fans of “The Avengers” would have you believe.

    Pegsman – the idea of comparing “Buried” (which if it’s not actually the worst film I’ve ever seen, it’s really really really close) with “Die Hard” (which I’ve watched pretty much every Christmas since I was a teenager) is one I find almost impossible to comprehend.

  89. JD – I’ve considered that for a long time. Vern’s Big Book of Die Hards or something like that. It’s definitely something I’d like to do some day.

  90. Another note on jazz fusion. Progressive rock is a better simile to fusion, because it was also a sub-genre that was quite popular for a time (there are still bands around too that take a modern approach) and sold well but were derided by the rock establishment, much the same way jazz purists took to fusion (or if you like, folkies taking to Dylan going electric). Plus there’s quite a few connections between those two genres. Clarke himself was a big fan of Yes and in particular Chris Squire’s style of bass playing (Stan is even seen playing a Rickenbacker bass in a few RTF videos from the 70’s)

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