If nothing else, Snakes on a Plane deserves an award for the best movie title of all time. Not only does it hint that the movie may not take itself 100% seriously, but it’s probably the most accurately titled film of all time — this movie is about snakes on a plane.
Actually, there’s a little bit more to the film than that, but not much. After surfer dude Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses a murder in Hawaii, there’s a race to find him between crime boss Eddie Kim (who wants him dead) and FBI agent Nelville Flynn (who needs him to testify against Kim in court). Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) gets to Jones first, and coordinates transportation for the two of them back to Los Angeles as passengers on Pacific Air Flight 121. Unfortunately, Eddie Kim is tipped off, and sends a few venomous passengers of his own.
Snakes on a Plane doesn’t waste much time dealing with things that aren’t either snakes or planes. The snakes (which have been made super-aggressive thanks to the introduction of snake pheramones on the flight) are complete bad-asses. Forget preconceived notions of slugglish snakes slithering around on the floor — these athletic reptiles leap from air conditioning vents, out of toilets and strike hard enough to wiggle down people’s windpipes and penetrate their eye sockets. On the other end of the toughness spectrum we have the plane itself, which is constantly being destroyed by snakes bumping into things — at one point the captain “loses all avionics” when a snake wiggles up against a control panel. I guess they just don’t make jumbo jets like they used to; you can build a plane to withstand air turbulance, but not even engineers anticipated snakes. On a plane.
The plot actually bears a resemblance to the classic comedy Airplane! — just replace bad fish with deadly snakes and you’ll have the general idea. It just wouldn’t be an airplane thriller without flight attendants asking the people in coach quesions such as “is there a doctor on board?” and “is there anyone here who can fly a plane?” Snakes on a Plane is like a comedy with all the classic horror cliches thrown in for good measure. It’s a safe bet that anyone who removes their clothing or is unnecessarily rude will be leaving the plane with two more holes than they had prior to boarding.
Samuel L. Jackson provides a typical Samuel L. Jackson performance and Nathan Phillips isn’t given much to do, but the real stars of the movie are the snakes themselves (in all their bad-CGI glory). The hundreds of writhing reptiles show no mercy, attacking everyone within striking distance. Viewers are even treated to several snakey-POV shots — who knew snakes saw the world through green-tinted, distorted camera lenses?
Check your logic circuits at the door, keep your feet lifted up off the floor and go see Snakes on a Plane. Not since Lake Placid has reptilian horror been this much fun.