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‘Drop Zone’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 09, 1994


John Badham
Wesley Snipes;
Gary Busey;
Malcolm-Jamal Warner;
Michael Jeter;
Yancy Butler
Under 17 restricted

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To enjoy “Drop Zone,” the new John Badham film starring Wesley Snipes, all you need is a pulse. A nonstop action adventure in which a U.S. marshal named Nessip (Snipes) attempts to foil a gang of sky-diving drug traffickers, “Drop Zone” appeals more to your brain’s limbic system than your higher intellectual functions. In this case, your frontal lobe would only get in the way.

The movie begins as Nessip is assigned to escort an electronics wizard convicted of computer crimes from one prison to another. Once their 747 gets into the air, though, the sky divers, posing as terrorists, take over the plane and kidnap Nessip’s prisoner. In the process, they kill Nessip’s brother, who was assisting him in the assignment.

Led by a wacko named Moncrief (Gary Busey), the bad guys have concocted a plan to break into the Drug Enforcement Administration, penetrate its computer and steal a list of all the undercover drug agents in America—then sell the list to sell to drug dealers for a neat $2 million a month. But Nessip, who is suspended for messing up the prisoner transfer, isn’t interested in the group’s crimes. His motive is revenge: These guys killed his brother, and they must pay.

To track down his adversaries, Nessip has to enter the world of sky diving, giving Badham plenty of chances to stage mind-boggling stunts thousands of feet in the air. To his credit, these perilous feats are thrilling.

Unfortunately, on the ground this movie isn’t nearly as interesting. Snipes has a nice, light touch with this sort of role, but the character is so familiar as to seem generic. As the villain, Busey performs with his usual gusto, but he’s done this sort of thing many times before and the allure is wearing off.

Yet to judge the film by its performances is to miss the point entirely. This movie belongs to the stuntmen. “Drop Zone” flies spectacularly through the air; unfortunately, its chute never opens.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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