Drop Zone (film)

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Drop Zone
Drop zone ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Badham
Produced by D. J. Caruso
Lauren Lloyd
Wallis Nicita
Written by Peter Barsocchini
John Bishop
Story by Peter Barsocchini
Tony Griffin
Guy Manos
Starring Wesley Snipes
Gary Busey
Yancy Butler
Michael Jeter
Kyle Secor
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Roy H. Wagner
Edited by Frank Morriss
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • December 9, 1994 (1994-12-09)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $28,735,315

Drop Zone is a 1994 American action film directed by John Badham, starring Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey, Yancy Butler, Michael Jeter and Kyle Secor. The film was released in the United States on December 9, 1994.

Plot[edit]

Aboard a commercial airliner, U.S. Marshals Terry (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and Pete Nessip (Wesley Snipes), are escorting computer expert Earl Leedy (Michael Jeter) to a high security prison. When an apparent terrorist hijack attempt blows a hole in the airplane (Boeing 747), Terry is sucked out to his death, and the terrorists parachute out of the same hole, taking Leedy with them.

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.

Pete believes that the assault may have been an elaborate prison break meant to free Leedy. However, the FBI declares that sneaking a parachute through airport security is impossible, and that parachuting at the jet's altitude and speed is not survivable. A devastated Pete is blamed for overreacting to the incident, and forced to turn in his badge.

Undeterred, Pete consults a USAF High-altitude military parachuting instructor who confirms that he and his team have parachuted from that height and speed, but also states that the high-density metal rings in the parachutes would not pass airport metal detectors and that the operation required either rare skills or suicidal recklessness. The instructor believes the world class skydiver Dominic Jagger could perform the jump, but does not know his current whereabouts. Pete is instead referred to Jagger's reckless ex-wife, ex-con Jessie Crossman (Yancy Butler) - who is unaware that Jagger 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. Soon after, Jagger is found dead, tangled in some high voltage power lines. Jesse breaks into the police impound to examine Jagger's parachute, declares that his death was a murder engineered by Ty, and swears revenge. Pete inquires as to the parachute's lack of metal, which Jesse explains is a custom "smuggler's rig" made with high density fabrics to deter radar.

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. Ty, having kidnapped Jessie, appears and threatens 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.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Drop Zone was one of two skydiving action films released in December 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 film Freefall, which is about a skydiving spy who uncovers a plot to expose the identities of undercover Interpol agents.[1] 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, 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), and Puss in Boots. 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.

The green C-47 used in the skydiving scenes is currently on display at the Valiant Air Command air museum in Titusville, Florida.

Reception[edit]

The movie gained mostly negative responses from critics.[1][2][3][4] It currently holds a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews.

Box office[edit]

The movie had a modest debut[5] and experienced a 52% drop in its second weekend.[6] Drop Zone ultimately grossed $28 million domestically, failing to recoup its $45 million budget.

Home media[edit]

DVD was released in Region 1 on May 25, 1999 and Region 2 on 5 June 2000, it was distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

References[edit]

External links[edit]