After all the hype, the critic snipes, the fan-sites; after all the froth about net-nerd script doctors and amateur soundtrack hopefuls and A-list B-movie slumming... is the motherfucking thing actually any good?
Of course not. But the clue has always been in the title. Snakes On A Plane is designed to chomp down on our jaded jugulars and pump in a bracing gush of lunatic charm. In a year where the Oscars were dominated by issue-pics and filmmakers are stumbling over each other to reflect the dark mood of our terror-twitchy times, it’s a much-needed portion of bloody-minded pulp; like sneaking out of a lecture for a go on the Ghost Train. Although, of course, in the current climate, the concept of a mid-flight crisis is hardly escapist. Hand-Cream On A Plane would have had pretty much the same effect...
So, a Kieslowski-esque reverie on the existential dread of high-altitude limbo, it ain’t. You get pretty much what it says on the billboard: Sam Jackson and a roster of disaster-movie cartoon characters having a fight with some snakes. On a plane. There’s sex (bunk-up in the bogs), comedy-splatter violence (snake in an eye-socket, snake out of a sickbag, a most unfortunate moment of snake on a trousersnake) and some very, very wrong but very, very funny lines (“Get this snake off my ass!”).
Surprisingly, though, in the final 20 minutes, Ellis actually manages to power down the ironic chuckles to squeeze out a few flexes of genuine tension and humanity... Well. Almost. The scene with the baby and the flight attendant is a bit of a wrench.
Still, it’s all foreplay for the line: that line. It feels tacked on – and it was. But when Big Sam finally booms it out, you’ll want to whoop with the fanboys.