CON AIR (1997)



When we watch a narrative film there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. It’s expected and as an avid movie watcher, I’ve never had a problem with that. Until it’s too much to ask. Let me tell you the series of events that begins Con Air.

Nicolas Cage is Cameron Poe, an Army ranger who is back home from . . .somewhere. We basically first see him on a dock staring into a bar, where it turns out his wife, Tricia (Monica Potter) works. His wife is pregnant but extremely thin, which makes one wonder who got her pregnant since they act like they haven’t seen each other in years. Anyway, even though Poe is in full uniform, he’s immediately accosted by some drunk assholes. Because I think everyone knows that men in full military uniform are probably the biggest targets of harrassments in neighborhood bars. They shoo them away long enough to enjoy their night together but the men follow them to their car when they go to leave for the night. Really, Poe and Tricia could have easily still driven away at this point since they were both in the car. But Poe gets out and decides to fight. While he’s being attached, Poe punches one of them in the nose and kills them instantly. I’m assuming it’s one of those punch-in-the-nose-so-the-bone-stabs-the-brain punches that I heard about so much as a kid, but we never really get an explanation. Not that it matters because next time we see Poe it’s at his sentencing. He gets 7-10 years for manslaughter. Further, the judge gives him that much time because as a former Army ranger, his body is a deadly weapon and therefore . . . he has to pay more for what he did? Sooooooo in this world:

– When you leave the army they drop you off in a boat directly in front of where you need to be

– Civilians hate members of the armed forces

– Self-defense doesn’t exist

– A judge can willy-nilly decide to up your sentence based on the fact that you used to be in the army and that makes you more dangerous

So by the time we see Poe in prison, I have no idea what world we’re in. We’re not in the real world for the above reasons. The rest of the movie doesn’t help.

After being in prison for eight years, Poe is let out on parole. He’s never met his daughter because he didn’t want her to see him in prison (ugh). Poe is being flown to Alabama to be released (once they parole you do they not just let you go? I truly don’t know the answer but it seems weird that he would get paroled and then have to be on a hellplane with non-parolees) but is sharing a plane with prisoners who are not getting paroled but are rather getting sent to a crazy super super super maximum security prison. So on this aircraft you have a nice mix of people like Poe, out on parole for manslaughter, and Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi), a serial killer and possible cannibal. Because that sounds like a nice mix of gentlemen that will get along well! Also included are Cyrus “Cyrus The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich), some kind of criminal mastermind; Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones (Ving Rhames) whom is somehow related to politics but is also a crazy criminal so I don’t really understand what his deal was; Johnny-23 (Danny Trejo), called that because he’s raped 23 women.

U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack) is overseeing this whole operation, which makes one wonder if he’s the most psychotic one of all. Because it reallyyyyy doesn’t take long for a riot to start, allowing Cyrus, Diamond Dog, Johnny-23 and others to be set free, further allowing Cyrus to kill the co-pilot and force the pilot to say everything is okay. There’s also a scary element where they have a female prison guard on board (another brilliant/psychotic decision by Larkin?) who, once the prisoners are freed, is under constant threat of rape by Johnny-23. Luckily, none of the other prisoners are okay with rape (she really kinda lucked out on that part) and they just all try to keep him off her. It’s just weird and scary. Oh yeah, there’s an undercover cop on board, too, but he gets killed pretty quickly. He did have a tape recorder on him, though, and Poe finds it. The plane is going to make a stop in Carson City for yet another criminal mastermind (this time a drug lord, Francisco Cindino) and afterward Cyrus has the plane head for a small airport where Cindino is arranging for all the prisoners to be picked up and taken to a non-extradiction country. A bunch of stuff happens and then everyone, including Larkin, ends up at the small airport. Larkin and Poe know they’re on the same side at this point. More shit happens, Poe and the rest of the prisoners leave the airport when they realize that Cindino had tricked them and a plane wasn’t coming for them. The prisoners then find out that Poe is a parolee and not a crazy psycho so they want to kill him. Luckily, the plane gets shot and is forced to crash land on the Las Vegas strip . . . so not exactly a super successful end to shooting the plane down. But, eventually, the bad guys all get killed and/or captured, Poe gets reunited with Tricia and meets his daughter.

Haha oh yeah, except for Garland Greene, who escaped and we last see playing in a casino. Happy endings for all! . . . except for the people that Greene will inevitably murder now that he’s out of prison. They kinda got screwed by the system.

This whole movie is so outlandish, even for an action movie. It’s hard for me sympathize or empathize with characters that are either entirely evil or caught in a world with rules that don’t make sense. I also got the impression that Cage’s long hair was supposed to make him look more like a badass but it was actually just distractingly gross and terrible. Also, Nicolas Cage’s idea of a Southern accent is apparently mimicking Scarlett O’Hara.


I’ve really never thought much of this film. It was something I saw part of cause TBS and/or TNT used to play it all the time but I always found it very boring and uneventful. Watching it again I kind of felt the same way but I think watching it as, this is a terrible movie, instead of, this is a movie adults talk about a lot which must mean it’s good, brought out parts of this film I didn’t really notice before.

The movie is so full of holes and unnecessary issues it’s pretty funny. The whole story is about a giant plane that prisoners can’t escape from and within moments of it taking off the prisons are in control. And of course you have the great Nic Cage trying to do some 18th-century southern voice.

I wouldn’t really recommend this movie as I still find it to be a bit boring a slow but I’m glad I watched it with Elizabeth!


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