Michael Bay

Passenger 57 (1992)

“Always bet on black”

I think Wesley Snipes is one of my heroes on film appearing in some of the greatest action flicks of the nineties. My favourite appearance of Snipes is probably in Demolition Man as the blonde-haired Simon Phoenix.

Hankering a craving for Wesley Snipes, I decided to check out one of his earlier ventures in Passenger 57, which is home to that memorable “always bet on black” quip. Where Ice Cube has perfected saying anything and can make it menacing, Wesley Snipes has perfected that demeanour about him that just smells of action hero.

Wesley Snipes is John Cutter, the all round bad-ass head of security for Atlantic International Airlines, but has a haunted past. He relives the night of his wife’s death during a convenience store robbery and in the true 90s action flick style, the flashback is coupled with a training montage as he punches a bag at a late hour.

He boards a flight to Los Angeles, after accepting a job offer from his friends, only to find the notorious Charles Rane (Bruce Payne) on-board after he is caught and sent to LA to stand trail. And this is where the fun happens, as he hijacks the plane with the help of his cronies and a youthful Liz Hurley.

And what’s the American badass to do but save the day?

But it isn’t without a few hiccups, as Rane is calculated every step of the way and unrelenting as he mows down passengers without remorse. In true nineties fashion, the antagonist is there to just be an antagonist and only given very loose motives. Rane just seems hell bent on causing havoc and being a general nuisance. In general though it works, because for the runtime of eighty minutes the depth of usual antagonists isn’t needed, as John Cutter is the regular action hero.

The action sequences are of course completely over the top, but also excellent as Cutter jumps over seats Kung Fu kicking his way down the airliner. And what is a nineties classic without an over the top explosion, especially as the stairlift explodes in Michael Bay-esque fashion.

And why is there always a set of golf clubs in the storage units of planes? But of course it’s brilliant whilst John Cutter wields a club to beat the crap out of a bad guy. Of course, John Cutter isn’t a shade on Simon Phoenix, but the Passenger 57 is still incredibly enjoyable.

If you need a film to pass the time and want to see Wesley Snipes kung-fu kicking his way through bad guys then Passenger 57 is your film. It’s of perfect length and it’s nothing like modern-day action films with their intricate narratives, but Passenger 57 doesn’t bother with an intricacies, but rather just action for the sake of action. Just don’t take the film too seriously.


Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Back in 2007, Michael Bay bought the robots in disguise to the silver screen in great fashion. I personally really enjoyed watching these metallic behemoths battle whilst the screen was bathed in a glossy finish during the first instalment. Fast-forward ten years and Michael Bay is still going with this franchise with his latest instalment of Transformers: The Last Knight.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment has been evaporating quickly as the franchise now trundles into into it’s fifth segment. Bay seems to be up to his old tricks with his fast-paced and sometimes unintelligible narrative as Mark Wahlberg returns as Cade Yeager, but after the events of Tranformers: Age of Extinction he is currently in hiding with Bumblebee and other familiar faces, including Grimlock, the dinosaur robot.

I’m unsure where they keep coming up with ideas for the Transformers franchise, but it is seemingly picking points in history and making it Transformer-y. 

This time? The legend of King Arthur. 

After Transformers: Age of Extinction, Transformers are being hunted by TRF, regardless of their factions. Bay does some show incredible feats of world building as he shows cities demolished and the derelict areas where Transformers are hunted. It’s in one of these broken cities that Cade is given a metallic talisman, which carries the same symbol as the Arthurian knights in the glorious action-packed opening segment.

All the while, there is a storyline involving an Earl of Folgan (Anthony Hopkins), keeper of the secret regarding the history of Transformers on Earth, but also a girl that finds herself without a home after her Transformer companion is killed by the TRF. And of course, much like the other four Transformers films, Bay jet sets the film across the world from London to the South Dakotan badlands and Cuba.

At this point, I was unsure which direction Michael Bay wanted the film to go with Anthony Hopkins jabbering away at Mark Wahlberg and Laura Haddock. Hopkins believably seemed as though he had a screw loose during this segment. This naturally bought about a few laughs, and his leprechaun butler Cogsworth. Bay’s choice of jokes was odd though as some landed but more missed. He often pointed at things throughout the film and directly laughed at them in cringeworthy fashion.

Transformers: The Last Knight doesn’t try and stray away from the framework that has already produced four films, as Michael Bay still includes earth-shatteringly loud action sequences but also having that attractive female for leering purposes. This time Laura Haddock takes on this role as Viviane.

I will say, I was enjoying Transformers: The Last Knight. That was until my popcorn ran out. The film is just mind-numbingly packed to the brim with action with abundance of slow-motion sequences and of course because it’s a bay film, explosions galore. However, as I mentioned, once the popcorn runs out, the patience does too. The film is shy of three hours, and it feels it every step of the way.

And the problems do not stop there. The narrative is just nonsense and often found myself at a loss with where the film was heading, especially with the whole Witwickian lore and how it somehow segwegged into the battle between Unicron and Cybertron. And it’s not often I notice, but the ratio was all over the place as the film jumps from one ratio to the next. Of course with action films, the performances are never going to be the centre of attention, but when the performances are dialled in with cameos thrown in for nostalgic reasons, it becomes a bit of a farce.

That being said, the action sequences were enjoyable as the Transformers punched and shot at each other, but this can’t carry a film for near enough three hours. Transformers: The Last Knight wasn’t certainly the worst film I’ve seen, but it definitely wasn’t the best. It was just complete, sometimes enjoyable, nonsense.