Drop Zone (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Badham Produced by D. J. Caruso
Written by Tony Griffin
Starring Wesley Snipes
Music by Hans Zimmer Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) December 9, 1994 Running time 101 minutes Language English Budget $45 million Box office $28,735,315 (USA)
Aboard a commercial airliner, U.S. Marshal Pete Nessip (Wesley Snipes) and his brother Terry (Malcolm Jamal-Warner), a fellow marshal, are escorting prison inmate Earl Leedy (Michael Jeter), who is a computer wizard, to a high-security prison.
When an apparent terrorist hijack attempt blows a hole in the airplane, Terry is sucked out to his death, and the terrorists parachute out of the same hole, taking Leedy with them. A devastated Pete is blamed for overreacting to the incident, and he is forced to turn in his badge.
Pete believes that the assault may have been an elaborate prison break meant to free Leedy. But the FBI refuses to listen saying that the chances of sneaking a parachute through airport security and parachuting at 30,000 feet are impossible. Renegade skydiver and former DEA agent Ty Moncrief (Gary Busey) is the mastermind behind the attack, which culminated in the first-ever parachute jump from a commercial jet at 30,000 feet. Ty plans to use Leedy to hack into the DEA mainframe computer in Washington DC so Ty can auction off the names of undercover agents to drug cartels worldwide.
Ty has scheduled this to be accomplished during an Independence Day parachute exhibition and fireworks display, which is the one day every year when security is loosened around the airspace above Washington DC. Because skydiving played a part in the airplane hijacking, Pete finds his way to Jessie Crossman (Yancy Butler), a world-class skydiver and ex-con, whose ex-husband Jagger, unknown to all, is part of Ty's crew. Jessie agrees to train Pete how to skydive, if he will sponsor her team for the parachute exhibition.
When Jessie's parachuting friend Selkirk (Corin Nemec) is severely injured after using a faulty parachute that Ty had intended for Jessie to use, Pete is appointed to take Selkirk's place. When Jagger is found dead, tangled in some high-voltage power lines, it is obvious that his death was a murder engineered by Ty, and with Pete's help, Jessie now is seeking revenge on Ty. When Pete discovers Ty's plan to hack into the DEA mainframe, the rest of the parachuting team agrees to help Pete with the situation. On the night of the Independence Day exhibition, Jessie sneaks into Ty's parachuting plane, holding them at gunpoint in order to determine an explanation for Jagger's death. but Ty's men kick her outside and then parachute out, Jessie now managing to grab hold of the plane door bar lets go on a free fall just as Pete and the parachuting team arrive and rescues her, floating down safety to the roof of the DEA mainframe office building where Ty has already arrived.
Pete tries to find access to the DEA mainframe control room, eliminating Ty's men one by one, with the help of the parachuting team. He breaks in and holds Leedy (who has already started downloading the identities) as hostage. But Ty appears who has kidnapped Jessie threatening to kill her unless Pete releases Leedy. A fight breaks out between Pete and Ty that results with both of them go falling out the building window. Luckily, Pete opens his emergency parachute as Ty tumbles to his death. Pete lands safely on the ground and is escorted away by paramedics, but spots Leedy wearing a DEA jacket leaving the scene, one of the team members, Swoop (Kyle Secor) leaps from the building parachuting down onto Leedy stopping him in his tracks. Pete tells Jessie that in a few years he will try skydiving again.
Actor Role Wesley Snipes Pete Nessip Gary Busey Ty Moncrief Yancy Butler Jessie Crossman Malcolm Jamal-Warner Terry Nessip Kyle Secor Swoop Rex Linn Bobby Corin Nemec Selkirk Claire Stansfield Kara Michael Jeter Earl Leedy
Drop Zone was one of two skydiving action movies released in 1994; the other was Terminal Velocity. The original idea came from two professional skydivers, Tony Griffin and Guy Manos. One of the film's screenwriters, Peter Barsocchini, would later write High School Musical. Steven Seagal was originally intended to star (for a rumored $15 million).
The film bears some resemblance to the 1994 action movie Freefall, which is about a skydiving spy who uncovers a plot to expose the identities of undercover Interpol agents. The insurance policies of Wesley Snipes and most of the cast precluded them from skydiving. However, that really is Michael Jeter doing the tandem jump.
The fact that the two main characters — Nessip (who is black) and Crossman (who is white) — are not linked romantically is contrary to Hollywood plot conventions. This might hint at the reluctance of the producers to stage an interracial romance, but the part of Crossman was originally written for a man.
The Paramount Parks (now owned by Cedar Fair) featured drop tower amusement rides called Drop Zone: Stunt Tower, which were based on the movie. The attractions are now named Drop Tower: Scream Zone.
The musical sting that plays when Swoop races to help the stricken skydiver has been frequently used in movie trailers, most notably The Mask of Zorro and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (incidentally, a track from this film bears a strong resemblance with the one for Drop Zone). It is a thirty second excerpt from "Too Many Notes-Not Enough Rest" and "After the Dub" by Hans Zimmer, available on the soundtrack album.
- ^ "Drop Zone". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,304894,00.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- ^ "Drop Zone". Chicago Sun Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19941209/REVIEWS/412090302. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- ^ "Drop Zone". Deseret News. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700000492/Drop-Zone.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- ^ "Drop Zone". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/dropzonerhowe_c0117b.htm. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- ^ "Disclosure Edges Out `Santa' at the Box Office Movies: Much-hyped sexual-harassment drama pushes aside the Tim Allen heavyweight.". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-12-12/entertainment/ca-8096_1_tim-allen. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- ^ "Dumb' Laughs = a Smart Payoff : Box office: Jim Carrey vehicle pulls a 'Gump,' taking in $16.2 million on an otherwise slow film-going weekend.". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-12-21/entertainment/ca-11325_1_richie-rich/2. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Drop Zone at the Internet Movie Database
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- Drop Zone at Rotten Tomatoes
- Drop Zone at the TCM Movie Database
- Valiant Air Command Warbirds Museum
Films directed by John Badham 1970s 1980s 1990s
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