REVIEW: “Snakes on a Plane” (2006)

 

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Let’s be honest, the very title “Snakes on a Plane” tells you all you need to know. And if you went into this 2006 thriller thinking it would be anything other than a wacky and absurd B-movie romp, you really have no one to blame but yourself. Now whether or not you find it entertaining is another question altogether, but don’t expect anything profound. This is silly big screen escapism through and through.

“Snakes on a Plane” gained an enthusiastic internet fanbase well before the movie even hit theaters. Story goes that David Dalessandro, a college administrator at the time, wrote the script which taps into two common fears – snakes and flying. After the title began circulating online a big web following developed giving rise to all sorts of fan fiction, parodies, and art.

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The movie opens in Hawaii where a Red Bull chugging dirt biker named Sean (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a brutal murder at the hands of powerful crime boss Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). With a contract on his head, Sean is rescued by FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) and convinced to fly back to Los Angeles to testify against Kim in federal court.

As a diversion a private government plane is used as a decoy while Agent Flynn and Sean take a commercial airliner, commandeering the first-class section much to the chagrin of the flight attendants and some passengers. But wouldn’t you know it, Eddie Kim has eyes everywhere and enacts a plan to sabotage their flight. Not by tampering with the mechanics or planting a bomb. No, instead he smuggles hundreds of deadly snakes into the cargo bay and rigs a pheromone to be unleashed once the plane hits 30,000 feet sending them into a lethal frenzy. I’m not making this up.

Before the flight takes off we get one of those tried-and-true survival movie sequences – a scene briefly introducing an array of characters (in this case passengers) many of whom will amount to nothing more than snake fodder. We get a rap mogul/germaphobe, a single mother and her baby, a low-rent Paris Hilton clone, a jerky businessman, and so on. They all are pretty paper-thin but there are a couple you can’t help but root for (or in some cases against).

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Once the high altitude mayhem kicks in you can see the movie trying to one-up itself on how preposterous it can get. Believe or not that’s the film’s one big strength. I admit, I laughed quite a bit. We get ridiculous lines like “Well that’s good news, snakes on crack.” And numerous CGI snake kills that are almost as goofy as the dimwitted victims. I’m sure all of this sounds like a slam but it’s actually what keeps the movie in the air.

So as a thriller/comedy/horror/survival mashup “Snakes on a Plane” squeaks by simply because it unashamedly embraces its cheesiness and absurdity. Obviously that doesn’t make it a good movie, but it does make it entertaining. And sometimes that’s all you’re really looking for.

VERDICT – 3 STARS

3-stars

19 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Snakes on a Plane” (2006)

  1. This is one of those movies you just stick on, grab some munchies and ride along. It’s so over the top you got to find some enjoyment. Jackson just roles with it and it’s guilty fun. Agree with 3 out of 5.

    • Well said. If it were to ever even attempt to take itself serious it would completely fall apart. Thankfully they’re smart enough to know the kind of movie they’re making.

  2. I saw this in the theaters on opening day and everyone went nuts for it and we all said “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane” and we cheered! It never takes itself seriously and that’s the joy of it. It’s a damn good B-movie premise that lives up to its title while it allows for some gnarly shit and such. Cinema doesn’t have to be rocket science. It can be dumb and stupid too but in a clever way.

      • I wish Martin Scorsese would understand that. If he doesn’t like the films of the MCU!!!! That’s fine but to say it’s not cinema is kind of insulting considering the wealth of influences the filmmakers had in making these big-budget superhero films that is outside of the genre.

      • So true. I hate to tell him, but just because he doesn’t like a genre doesn’t mean it isn’t cinema. I really appreciate Scorsese, but that was a real shallow comment.

      • Indeed. I’m not entirely fond of musicals and rom-coms but I don’t dismiss them as there’s times they can stand out. Someone needs to get Marty to sit down and watch the entire MCU film series as I believe it stands toe to toe with any franchise out there.

      • Yep. I can’t help but wonder if his dismissive attitude is based on pure ignorance of the MCU. I can’t imagine that he’s actually watched them and can still make that assessment.

  3. I only saw this one time but I remember having fun with it. It was stupid like I expected it to be. I hope no one else went in with different expectations as you said.

    • I think that is one reason the title works so well. It’s almost like a warning sign steering people away from even remotely taking the movie seriously.

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