Though casting Wesley Snipes as one of the world's top men in the field of anti-terrorism strains credibility somewhat - with his street charisma he'd be more plausible as a hi-fi expert - this action-thriller soon makes it clear that his character, John Cutter, isn't the academic type, but a hands-on security consultant and martial arts expert.
Cutter unwittingly shares a flight with handcuffed terrorist and hijack specialist Charles Rane (Payne), who's being taken to Los Angeles by the FBI for a trial which, in all likelihood, will lead to a sentence involving the passage of a large number of volts through his seated body. Of course, Rane escapes to hijack the plane and our Wesley, who's detained in the toilet when it happens, pits his wits and fists against him and his colleagues.
Essentially Die Hard on a plane - if you will, Fly Hard - this is slick, comicbook entertainment, with Snipes a magnetic and athletic action hero and Payne a brilliantly disconcerting madman. With his flowing blond Jesus locks, armour-piercing stare and casual sadism, he makes Hannibal Lecter look like a social worker - and like Sir Anthony Hopkins' serial killer, part of the man's menace is in the apparent contradiction between his articulate, well-spoken English and his off-hand brutality.
Though there are a few rather large nits to be picked from the sloppy plot - the action takes at least one unfathomable turn and, as a terrorist, Payne seems to have entirely forgotten to have a cause - if you enter into the spirit, this is thunderously good fun.