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Drop Zone

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Drop Zone

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey
Director: John Badham
Rated: R
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: December 1994
Genres: Action, Mystery

*Also starring: Yancy Butler, Michael Jeter, Corin Nemic, Luca Bercovici, Kyle Secor, Malcom Jamal-Warner, Rex Linn, Grace Zabriskie

Review by Dragan Antulov
1 star out of 4

John Badham was never considered to be among the best American film directors, but his work in 1990s represents huge disappointment to those who are familiar with his achievements in previous decades. One of the reasons for the decline in his career is the lack of inspiration. On too many occasions Badham tried to find that inspiration from the past triumphs, whether other people's (like in his 1992 American remake of Besson's NIKITA) or his own (like in his sequel to STAKEOUT one year later). In 1994 he probably remembered his past success with BLUE THUNDER, one of the best action films of 1980s, and thought that the success had something to do with spectacular helicopter stunts. The result was DROP ZONE, action film that dealt with another kind of flying objects.

The protagonist of this film is U.S. Marshall Pete Nessip (played by Wesley Snipes). Federal prisoner and former computer wizard Earl Leedy (played by Kevin Jeter) is to be transferred by commercial flight, and Nessip and his brother and partner Terry (played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner) escort him. Routine task gets turns into nightmare when the plane gets taken by the group of hijackers, led by Ty Moncrief (played by Gary Busey). They snatch Leedy from Nessip's hand, blow a hole in plane and jump out with parachutes leaving Nessip's brother dead. Nessip is blamed for the disaster, disgraced and suspended, but he decides to pursue his own private investigation, although everyone tells him that nobody could survive skydiving from such altitude and with such speed. The trail leads him to Florida skydiving circles, so he enrols in skydiving school led by tough instructor Jessie Crossman (played by Yancy Butler). In the meantime, Ty Moncrief plans to parachute himself and his gang on the top of DEA headquarters, use Leedy's hacking abilities to penetrate computer databases, gather top secret data about informants and undercover agents and sell them to top drug dealers afterwards. The raid is about to take place on July 4th, where the airspace over Washington D.C. is open for the annual skydiving event, which is going to be attended by Crossman and Nessip.

Badham still knows how to shoot action films, judging by the series of spectacular scenes in this film, as well as the way he handles skydiving stunts. Some of those stunts with a passage of time get somewhat monotonous (at least for those who aren't enthusiastic about extreme sports), but the pace of the film is rapid. Unfortunately, even with plenty of "cool" scenes and fast tempo, audience still has time to notice gaping plot holes, preposterous premise and series of implausabilities in the screenplay by John Bishop and Peter Barscochini. Many of them (two brothers working as partners in federal agency, parachute landings in the middle of town being mistaken for covert action etc.) seem to insult viewer's intelligence. The actors also seem discouraged by the lack of plot or credible characters, so their performance is either bellow expectations (Wesley Snipes in many instances hyperventilates), uninspired (like in the case of Yancy Butler) or routine (Gary Busey again playing his trademark blonde psychopath). Although some elements of the film make it barely watchable, DROP ZONE in many ways is quite suitable title for the movie that deserved to bomb.

Copyright 2000 Dragan Antulov

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