Arguably the most important film release this year, Snakes on a Plane rests on the rock solid premise that for any self respecting criminal mastermind, called upon to neutralise a threat from the witness box, the method of choice is to establish which flight the whistleblower will take to LA, pack the hold with writhing reptiles and sit back with evil cackle to await the inevitable.
Naturally, ideas as brilliant as this require a little fine tuning. For starters, have your herpetological hitmen hail from at least three continents to reduce to zero the likelihood of any one location having all the requisite anti-venoms. Second, pack the critturs in cases that look like they’d foil a Houdini – but are primed to self destruct in mid air – so that no one objects to their going into the hold. Third, relax in the knowledge that at least one randy twosome, on the verge of joining the five mile high club, is bound to unscrew the lavatory smoke detector to enjoy a pre-climactic spliff and so create a serpentine portal to the cabin. Fourth, attend to the fact that snakes generally shun human company – their moms and dads drill it into them at an early age that we’re bad for their health – by wafting pheronomes through the air vents to push puff adders over the edge, and make mambas quite impervious to reason. Fifth, deal with the possibility – the kind of remote contingency armchair carpers just love to throw in your face – that, even on stimulants, this legless army might just conceivably fail to take out the one man it’s been specifically assembled for. Easy peasy. On their way up to business class, have the scaly stowaways stop off to chomp through those electrics most conducive to keeping a plane comfortably airborne – as opposed to vertically earthbound – and Robert’s your relative, right?
But if eight decades of Hollywood story-telling have taught us anything, it’s that the most astute of plans contain, when born of evil intent, the crucial flaw that will enable good to prevail and law-abiding folk to sleep easy in our beds. In this case that flaw is the failure of Mister About To Get His Come-Uppance – “ask him if he prefers gas or lethal injection” – to give due weight to the fact that FBI agent Neville Flynn, aka Samuel L Jackson, is not the type you mess with. There’s only so much badass slitheriness this dude is gonna take, and when he so forgets himself as to declare, fully within earshot of minors, that ‘ah hev hed it with these motherfuckin snakes on this motherfuckin plane!’ we just know we can all breathe again, shovel another fistful of popcorn down the hatch, and sit back with righteous chuckle to await the inevitable.