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  Drop Zone Falling For Wesley
Year: 1994
Director: John Badham
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey, Yancy Butler, Michael Jeter, Corin Nemec, Kyle Secor, Luca Bercovici, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Rex Linn, Grace Zabriskie, Robert LaSardo, Sam Hennings, Claire Stansfield, Mickey Jones, Andy Romano, Clark Johnson, Melanie Mayron
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: U.S. Marshal Pete Nessip (Wesley Snipes) is on his way to a jail where he and his partner Terry (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) who happens to also be his brother, are discussing his love life, or lack of it. All easygoing banter, but things are about to turn more serious as when they get to the prison, they are placed in charge of an inmate who recently has had an attempt made on his life, Earl Leedy (Michael Jeter). What the Nessip brothers have to do is transport him to a high security prison where not only will he be safe, but nobody will able to use his legendary skills with computers either; he's an eccentric chap who only cares about his cats, so this should be easy, yet once on the plane the Marshals reckon without the determination of one gang...

The tagline for Drop Zone was "Something dangerous is in the air!" which could have been redolent of unfortunate connotations, but it didn't matter so much for in the battle of skydiving action movies of this era, both it and Terminal Velocity wound up losing the contest to the audience's warm memories of Point Break. While that is fondly recalled, those two runners-up were neglected, making a few ripples on their release but barely distinguishing themselves in the great scheme of nineties action, not on the level of the straight to video market thanks to expensive-looking freefalling stunts (for the insurance alone, if nothing else), but too generic to make much of an impression other than with those who didn't have anything alternative to spend an hour and a half with.

Oddly, both this and that rival Charlie Sheen flick took a similar approach to their leading men in that they were not playing the rock hard he-man, but more of a comical protagonist, not going all out for belly laughs in every scene, but enough of a goof to render them slightly more human in their presentation than they may have essayed in other roles. Apparently this was down to Drop Zone copying as much of the other movie as they could get away with to steal their thunder, but as said it was a futile competition when a small cult of aficionados mixed with a larger group of folks who shrugged and muttered, "May as well watch this, got nothing better to do at the moment," were about all each production could muster as far as enthusiasm went.

The opening scene was one of those after Passenger 57 that illustrated how misguided it was to get on a plane with Wesley Snipes, as no sooner has it taken off than Gary Busey is punching and shooting people; fair enough, that might indicate more it's a bad idea to board a plane with Gary Busey, but this sort of thing did happen to Wesley rather a lot in comparison to say, Meryl Streep movies. Anyway, Gaz is there with his horrible gang to kidnap Leedy, which they achieve by blowing a hole in the fuselage and jumping out with him - but to Pete's shock his brother is sucked out to his death as well. We have to assume our hero is pretty upset about this, because he barely mentions it once he realises his only real lead is the skydiving academy of Yancy Butler's Jessie Crossman, preferring to get to know her better.

By doing so he begins to trace these latter day D.B. Coopers just as Busey's planning to hack Washington DC's computers by parachuting onto a government department roof with Leedy. OK, it's not actually Gary's plan, it's his character's plan, but you wouldn't put it past Busey, would you? In the meantime, director John Badham found near-endless reasons to have this cast's stunt doubles zoom off in planes and then jump out of them, which while undeniably impressive visually did grow repetitive when it was clear it was the only weapon in the film's arsenal. Well, that aside from Busey needlessly slaughtering his way through anyone who presented an obstacle, including a henchman who he steers into a power plant where before you can say "Jimmeeeee!" the unfortunate evildoer has been electrocuted. If nothing else, this alerts Pete to the baddies and leads to the showdown, though doesn't explain why Snipes' surname in the movie is an anagram of his own: he really should have been called Yes, Wel Nessip if they wanted to go that route. Sort of diverting overall. Music by Hans Zimmer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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John Badham  (1939 - )

British-born, American-raised director of mostly medium-sized hits. He progressed from television in the 1970s to direct The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, but his second film was the blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. After that came a remake of Dracula, Blue Thunder, classic Cold War sci-fi WarGames, Short Circuit, Stakeout, the underrated The Hard Way, Nick of Time and Drop Zone, amongst others. He moved back into TV in the 2000s.

 
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