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Samuel L. Jackson as Nelville Flynn
Julianna Margulies as Claire Miller
Nathan Phillips as Sean Jones
Bobby Cannavale as Hank Harris
Todd Louiso as Dr. Steven Price
Rachel Blanchard as Mercedes
Flex Alexander as Three G's
Kenan Thompson as Troy
Keith Dallas as Big Leroy
Byron Lawson as Eddie Kim
Lin Shaye as Grace
Bruce James as Ken
Sunny Mabrey as Tiffany
Casey Dubois as Curtis
Daniel Hogarth as Tommy
Gerard Plunkett as Paul
Terry Chen as Chen Leong
Elsa Patsky as Maria
Directed by David R. Ellis
Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) is the only witness to infamous crime lord Eddie Kim's slaying of a prominent district attorney, so FBI Agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) is flying him to Los Angeles personally in order to finally bring Kim down. No one realizes that Kim will literally go to absurd lengths to make sure Sean doesn't testify (and apparently has Baldrick from Black Adder as his consigliere), up to and including setting loose a cargo of vicious, venomous snakes on the plane.
It's not "Alone in the Dark" bad, which is almost a shame as it might have been able to live up to expectations, but there have certainly been worse movies made. "Snakes on a Plane" is for the most part simply boring, thanks largely to bland and inept direction by stuntman turned director David R. Ellis ("Final Destination 2").
It's hard to believe that you can't even get the camp enjoyment out of an absurd movie about a plane attacked by rampaging snakes, but there it is. It's not scary or funny or absurd or ironic or exciting, or anything really. Ellis lets every scene play in the most perfunctory manner imaginable.
For a movie of only 104 minutes, it takes quite a while for the snakes to actually attack the plane. There are a few good campy gags when they finally do – beginning with a couple trying to join the mile high club in the bathroom – but that all fades away quickly. The passengers, led by Flynn, barricade themselves away from the snakes and await one easily averted crisis after another and the time between them is filled in with uninteresting character development that everyone involved most realize is an exercise in futility. A movie called "Snakes on a Plane" only has one thing going for it – the snakes on the plane. Everything else is a waste of time.
Jackson actually manages the seemingly impossible task of never appearing ridiculous no matter what it is that he has to do. Unfortunately, he gets to do very little for most of the film, and even a descent into the bowels of the plane comes up short on interest. He does have one really, really good catch phrase but even that moment is blown by Ellis' ridiculously straightforward and bland direction.
A movie about snakes on a plane does not need to be straightforward; the material is just too thin. It only has a shot if it is either genuinely scary or so incredibly over the top it's funny. "Snakes on a Plane" is neither, but maybe "Snakes on a Boat" will be better.