This is a searing indictment of man's inhumanity to man displayed amidst the turmoil of the age-old conflict of man against nature. No, wait. My bad. It's about motherf***ing snakes on a motherf***ing plane. The sheer simplicity of the film's concept is its greatest strength.
Snakes On A Plane is its own built-in excuse. Whenever something preposterous happens, the viewer just shrugs and says, "Hey, it's Snakes On A Plane. If I wanted gritty realism I'd have rented Mean Girls."
Historically, the film recalls not just the airline disaster movies of the seventies, but also the nature gone amok genre from the same period, represented by Frogs, Fer de Lance (snakes on a submarine, if you will), and a seemingly forgotten tale of bats going bats in a subterranean complex called Chosen Survivors, to name but a few.
Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips ) witnesses a mob hit on Daniel Hayes, a prominent prosecuting attorney from Los Angeles. Hayes has been laboring to put mobster Edward Kim behind bars, but for his troubles Hayes is beaten to death with a baseball bat. Sean is taken into protective custody by FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), and arrangements are made for Sean to fly to California under FBI protection to testify against Kim.
Why exactly he needs to fly to California to testify about a murder that occurred in Hawaii is not mentioned, but hey, it's Snakes On A Plane. If I wanted a lecture on legal jurisdiction I'd rent High Noon.
The FBI sets up a decoy private jet, while actually transporting Sean on a commercial 747. All the other passengers are forced to travel coach as Flynn has commandeered the first class section for his passenger. Kim's goons are not fooled, though, and they manage to get a large container filled with poisonous snakes from all over the world stowed in the luggage section. The flowered leis the passengers are given have been treated with snake pheromones, making those slithery bastards all the more aggressive.