Samuel L. Jackson plays Neville Flynn, a cop who’s escorting a dirt bike riding kid who witnessed drug kingpin Eddie Lee (Byron Lawson) murder someone. Flynn’s taking him from Hawaii to LA to stand trial, but Lee has other plans. To stop him from testifying, he does what any other drug kingpin would do in that situation: load Flynn’s plane with hundreds of deadly poisonous snakes!
The set-up is all pretense, just an excuse to get some muthafuckin’ snakes on a muthafuckin’ plane, but director David R. Ellis, a legend after the incredible Final Destination 2, handles these scenes swiftly and gets us aboard the plane PDQ. Once in the air, we get to see snakes bite just about every appendage there is on a person (dicks, arms and eyes). Not even cats and dogs are safe from the rampant reptile attacks. There’s also a bone crushing python that swallows a dude whole.
When the captain (Anchorman’s David Koechner) gets killed, it’s up to a rapper’s bodyguard (SNL’s Kenan Thompson) to land the plane safely. (There’s a homeboy flying the plane!) It’s at this critical moment when Jackson utters his immortal line, “I have had it with these muthafuckin’ snakes on this muthafuckin’ plane!”
This movie rocks and it rocks hard.
It’s got everything you could possibly want in a movie and more. You got Samuel L. Jackson being a badass. You get Sunny (Species 3) Mabrey looking hot. You get tits and ass (both get chunks taken out of them by the snakes). And most importantly you get muthafuckin’ snakes on a muthafuckin’ plane! The characters are sketched just enough to make you root for who lives and who dies. There are not one but TWO stewardesses (Juliana Margulies and Lin Shaye) on their last day on the job before retirement. There’s an obsessive compulsive rapper who overcomes his fear of touch when battling snakes. There’s the big brother looking out for his bitten little brother. There’s an eccentric snake doctor (Todd Louiso). And of course there’s the badass world weary cop (Jackson) protecting his hopelessly clueless witness (Nathan Phillips).
Ellis takes a pretty sub Sci-Fi Channel premiere premise and he and Jackson run with it, playing it more or less straight and keeping their audience entertained every step of the way. Ellis brings a lot of style to the proceedings and economically utilizes “snake vision”, the green tinged snake POV, where we get to see through the snake’s eyes before it pounces on its prey. I’m not sure if the snake FX were cheesy on purpose, but they were perfectly suited to the material.
The movie though belongs to Jackson who keeps a straight face throughout. Say what you will about the movie. Call it a cheesy summer popcorn movie. Call it an updated drive-in flick. Say it’s just a big budget version of a Sci-Fi Channel movie. But you can’t deny this: It blends two of America’s biggest fears: Snakes and Planes and it does it very, very well. Bring on Snakes on a Train!