Unfortunately, the film continues to lose altitude even after the jet
is on the ground. Flying a group of federal prisoners to another facility,
Chief Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard (Jones) is head of the group of federal
lawmen in charge. Sheridan (Wesley Snipes) is one of the prisoners, who
has been accused of murdering two top G-men. But when one prisoner explodes
a bomb, a large hole is blown in the side of the plane, causing it to decompress
just like in Airport (1970). But this time there is no Dean Martin
to bring the plane in safely. It flops upside down into a lake in the middle
of the night, and the marshals round up survivors. In the morning, Sheridan
is the only one missing. So the manhunt begins.
Much to Gerard's dismay, he and his team are not going to be allowed
to conduct the search by themselves. The federal agency who employed Sheridan's
alleged victims have a vested interest in bringing in the killer, so agent
John Royce (Robert Downey Jr.) is assigned to tag along. Gerard is forced
to deal with a new man in his group, a loose cannon who wants to out-tough-guy
the tough guys.
Apart from Kate Nelligan, who plays Gerard's boss (and who can't seem
to deliver a line effectively), the acting isn't bad in this movie. Jones,
Snipes, and Downey all are excellent as usual. But let's face it
they're not exactly breaking new ground character-wise. Writer John Pogue
has stuck closely to the action/adventure formula in his first outing since
being one of 8 co-writers for Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1996 vehicle Eraser.
The plot is nothing new either: federal agents chasing a stunningly inventive
criminal who believes he's not guilty, and lots of shooting. The "who's
the real good-guy" device is also becoming old hat, and though it does
add a few mildly surprising twists, there's not enough character development
for us to really care.
And just when you think this movie's going to end, it goes on for another half hour. Any police thriller that lasts longer than two hours runs the risk of outstaying its welcome, and this one passes up a few good chances to wrap it up. Jerry Goldsmith's music is exciting and effectively complements the roller-coaster action sequences, but if you're interested in more than cheap thrills and bravado, you may be disappointed. ***
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