Wesley Snipes might not bring the same name and star cache these days, but it wasn’t too long ago that this guy was one of the most sought-after actors in all of Hollywood. He was taking big-budget action movies on the regular and had a run as one of the film industry’s top leading men. Those days are behind him now, but you can still go and catch one of the films that really put him on the map as a star. Passenger 57 is streaming on Netflix and is definitely worth the watch.
Back in 1992 Wesley Snipes had just come off of breakout roles as the fast-talking Sidney Deane in White Men Can’t Jump and then as drug lord Nino Brown in New Jack City. Those films showed the actor’s range and it led to being cast in Passenger 57. In the movie he plays the titular numbered passenger, John Cutter, a former police officer on board a flight that’s also carrying one of the world’s most deadly terrorists, Charles Rane (Bruce Payne).
Predictably, because this is a mid-90’s movie, Rane and his evil cronies take the plane hostage and Wesley Snipes’s Cutter is forced into action with the help of an unsuspecting flight attendant. The film doesn’t take place all on the plane, using a number of different backdrops in Cutter’s fight against Pane, but the core of the initial action happened on board.
For all it’s standard action fare, Passenger 57 did give us one truly iconic line from Wesley Snipes. Check out what you should always do when playing blackjack:
Passenger 57 launched Wesley Snipes into superstardom. The film was a decent success at the box office, earning $44 million on a $15 million budget though the critical reviews were tepid/ bad with a 24% on the Tomatometer.
But for all of these somewhat underwhelming numbers, what was clear was Wesley Snipes could carry the lead in an action film. He cut the part of a star, stealing scenes as the confident and capable Cutter, engaging in a number of different action sequences showing off the ability to handle big-league action parts.
This was the start of Wesley Snipes nabbing some huge roles. The following year alone saw him star in smaller but notable films Boiling Point and Sugar Hill along with massive blockbusters Rising Sun alongside Sean Connery and as the antagonist to Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man. The latter was a massive film, topping $159 million at the box office and Snipes was awesome as the crazed Simon Phoenix.
All of these action roles for Wesley Snipes (and there were others) ultimately led to his role in Blade as the vampire-hunting daywalker. That trilogy of films earned over $400 million at the box office and firmly cemented Snipes as an action mega-star.
But it really all got off the runway in Passenger 57, a film that Wesley Snipes carries throughout. So while the critical and box office reception isn’t aligned with a movie that essentially launched a career, it’s mostly a testament to how good Snipes was despite the flawed premise. Go check out the movie on Netflix and you’ll see an action star on the rise.