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Sam Jackson RIP
 
 
March 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Snakes On A Plane
cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, and Flex Alexander

director: David R. Ellis

102 minutes (15) 2006
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
EIV DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
It is with great and sincere regret that I report the passing of, our true 'brother', the popular actor Mr Samuel Leroy Jackson, a star of screen and DVD extras. He was, undoubtedly, of course, the finest black thespian of the late 20th century, an avid golfer, and the epitome of 'cool' in all of your favourite Hollywood motion pictures.

"I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger..."

His romanticised hitman, Jules, in Quentin Tarantino's absurdly tragic fable Pulp Fiction (1994), taught everyone about Ezekiel, and won him an Oscar nomination. When Bruce Willis wanted a fast-talking, hip sidekick for Die Hard 3, they had no option but to cast Sam Jackson. As sidekick Mitch, in classic thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Jackson was not above playing his supporting role for chuckles, evidentially awestruck by the mystery and wrath of Geena Davis as a deconstructed feminist assassin. Ordell, the arms dealer, in Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997), was so laidback that furniture designers named a king sized bed after him... When they needed someone for the otherwise unremarkable remake of Shaft (2000), Jackson was the top choice on a very short list of blaxploitation champions. Proving that he could be fragile and still get the job done, as comicbook obsessed Elijah in Unbreakable, was the key to opening another chapter of Jackson's appointed career as character actor par excellence. Jackson's unintentionally homicidal chemist, Elmo McElroy, found his Scottish roots and, as kilt-less golfer, teed off naked, in sublime British comedy thriller The 51st State. There, he goes... larger than life. Here, Jackson lost much of his dignity when he stoops to conquer sci-fi as token black Mace in another of those interminably cheesy Star Wars prequels. Our brother's ability to channel the Force is unsubtly diminished.

"This party's over."

Then, he's spymaster Augustus Gibbons, awkwardly shoehorned into secret agent caper XXX. Reunited with John Travolta for Basic, Jackson forgets that (as a former Jedi knight) he's a peacekeeper not a soldier, and the buddy-movie chemistry fails, dismally, to re-ignite. As mindless automaton Hondo in lamentably straight-arrow S.W.A.T, the brain-rot is firmly established, and it's all over bar the shouting.

Now, he's become a sorry listless caricature of his former greatness. Jackson simply rambled meaninglessly through charmless voice roles, from The Incredibles, to the likes of Farce Of The Penguins (2007). So what about the 'squirm' factor in Snakes On A Plane (from herewith SOAP, and not to be confused with the Mallachi brothers' fantasy-actioner, Snakes On A Train, 2006)? Surely two phobias for the price of one delivers the schlock goodies? What James Gunn's obvious B-movie, Slither got right, almost perfectly, the cold-blooded SOAP fluffs badly, and so bad that it really hurts. It's painful to watch a favourite actor self-destruct in such spectacular fashion. Since he publicly lambasted rap star types for trying acting, he seems to have thought 'why should I bother working hard when no-talent bluffers can get headline jobs, so damn easily?'

"I was a Drell. I was a Drifter. I was a Coaster. I was part of The Gang." - RUFUS

Jackson's federal agent Neville Flynn in SOAP is a feeble-minded rendition of a one-note hero. When he uses strong language it's just become embarrassing! Watching this useless waste of a promising supporting cast (Julianna Margulies, Lin Shaye, Bruce James, and Sunny Mabrey do what they can with underwritten roles as flight attendants, but they fail - unhappily let down by farcically amateurish direction by David R. Ellis, who previously showed limited promise with Final Destination 2 and Cellular), viewers transform into mourners. Jackson's hopelessly vague and blank-minded 'professional' trouble-shooter Flynn seems like a victim of the pod people. What's happened to the real Sam Jackson? Is there a doctor on the plane? Can he manage a DNA test on the leading man, please? Oh no, it's too late. He's really gone. Poisoned by SOAP.

The rumours have been confirmed. Our worst fears realised. It's time for Jackson's fans to adopt a mood of sober reflection on the notable successes of their idol's film acting career after a reasonably good innings. After all, 'dying' on screen at the age of 58 is hardly uncommon for busy actors, especially in the 'pressure cooker' work environment of today's Hollywood. This man's talent had clearly been ill for some time. As we inter the spirit of our brother, the unfortunate SOAP movie star; now, let us pray...

DVD extras: commentary track by director Ellis, star Jackson, two of the producers, and some tech crew. Deleted scenes with optional director's commentary, a rather pointless batch of skimpy and skim-worthy featurettes on the reptiles, visual effects and other, even less interesting, stuff. There's also a gag reel, TV spots and trailers, and a departure lounge music video by Cobra Starship.
NEXT

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