By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema.
Snakes on a Plane
Anyone worried that Snakes
on a Plane would take itself seriously, fear not. It’s
a total B-movie, but the most skillful B-movie this side of Tarantino. It
opens with ethnic badasses beating down a suit in the jungle. The line “F*ck
you, Eddie Kim” should tell you what type of movie this is. If not,
Kim’s response to “Mr. Prosecutor” solidifies it.
Snakes on a Plane Review
There’s a little more setup as Samuel L.
Jackson rescues the witness and lays it all out. He’s a marked man
anyway, so he might as well testify and stand a chance. If those Asian dudes
can pick his door lock, clearly there’s no escaping them.
All of this plays out like the exposition it knows it is. There are some
character moments thrown in (think the tough SOB will reveal his weak side
later?) but it’s mostly the film telling you, “We’re saving
the good stuff for the plane.” I mean, they have Eddie Kim training
in martial arts to show you what a badass stereotype he is. They know they’re
about to mess with the audience big time.
To answer some of you logic buffs, here’s what the movie clarifies:
It is a Hawaii to LA flight, so they’re over the ocean and can’t
land. There was an inside man who planted the snakes in the cargo. And they
attack because the bad guys sprayed a pheromone on the Hawaiian lays so
the snakes go into attack mode with no passenger provocation.
The film has great fun teasing the snakes with little shots of the slithering
through the cracks, a timer counting down to their release, and off screen
attacks in animal cages. Once the snake gets his close up hiss, that’s
when the film kicks into gear.
The snake attacks are awesome. Part of it is the extreme gore of it all,
but the other significant part is the setup. The snakes bite everywhere
we want them to, usually after a passenger does something that leaves them
totally open for it. There are plenty of surprise bites too to keep you
Snakes on a Plane
Best of all, there’s lots of collateral damage.
You can dodge a snake and still get killed by something else. Or the snake
can cause some other damage, or the other passengers can be negligent. They’ve
really thought of everything. All those moments make you cheer because a
film did exactly what you wanted it to.
The only disappointment is a certain character that’s set up to have
the most awesome snake confrontation of all. He never does. You’ve
delivered on everything else. Why tease us with the one thing you’re
not giving us?
You can tell the reshoots because there’s a cutaway shot of Kim sprayed
with blood in the aftermath of his torture killing. A lot of F words happen
in voiceover. Even the naked boobies stand out amidst other shots that were
strategically framed for the PG-13. But that’s part of the fun, seeing
where we made a difference.
A few moment may be indefensibly cheesy, as in you can’t even claim
they weren’t taking themselves seriously. A guy whispers, “Good
luck” in his dying breath? Come on. And since when do they carry olive
oil on a plane?
But Snakes on a Plane is what movies should be. It’s
one of the few movies to live up to the cliché of a fast paced, edge
of your seat thrill ride because it leads you quickly from set up to payoff.
It’s possible for a film to take the audience seriously without taking
itself too seriously. That’s Snakes on a Plane.