Sunday, February 7, 2016


Con Air
Director: Simon West
Cast: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Dave Chappelle, Monica Potter
Released: June 6, 1997

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound (lost to Titanic)
Best Original Song - "How Do I Live" by Diane Warren (lost to "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic by James Horner and Will Jennings)

I already reviewed one of Nicolas Cage's R-rated action movies from 1997, so I thought I would review his OTHER R-rated action movie that came out just a couple weeks before Face/Off, and that would be Con Air. This was another movie that was reviewed on How Did This Get Made?, hence why I wanted to see it had been a VERY long time since I last saw this. This is one of those so bad, it's good movies. Although if you had asked me who directed this, I would have said Michael Bay, though I would have been wrong!

I remembered that song, "How Do I Live" is in this movie, but I forgot it was written for the movie! I guess I just thought they wanted to use a sappy country love song for the literally ten minute romance of the film. (Eh...maybe it was fifteen?) Don't get me wrong, I love the song, but it's just so weird that kind of song is in a movie about murders, serial killers, rapists, and drug lords overtaking a plane. The two just don't mesh very well. Like most people, I am very familiar with the LeAnne Rimes version of this song, but did you know they don't even play that version in the movie? It's sung by Trisha Yearwood. The LeAnne Rimes version is a trillion times better (even though it sounds like she's singing, "How do I leave without you")...the Trisha Yearwood one sounds like a watered-down version and it's not the power ballad that LeAnne makes it. I guess they (the producers, I assume) said she was too young which is ridiculous because there are two young girls in the movie and they are much younger than the 14/15 years LeAnne was when she recorded that song.

How do I "leave" without you?
The movie starts with our hero, Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) coming home to Alabama from being in the army for however long (well at least long enough to get his wife pregnant). He goes to a bar where his wife works. She is played by Monica Potter which is so crazy because I literally just binged watched five seasons of Parenthood (I'm on the last season now) in about three weeks. I feel like there's a word for that. They are being harassed by these two rednecks. They threaten to rape the wife, then start beating up Poe for really no reason and he kills one of them in self defense. We next see him in court where he is sentenced to eight years of prison just because he killed somebody in SELF DEFENSE when that guy was attempting to RAPE his WIFE and beat him up! WTF? That seems a little extreme, but the judge says with his years of experience in the army, he's a danger to society. It makes no sense at all! But we need to find a way to get our hero in prison, I guess...without him being a bad guy.

We next see the next eight years fly by in three minutes, I am not kidding you. This movie really wants to get to the point and I salute it for doing that. Let's get to the good stuff which we all know will happen on the plane. In the montage we see Poe writing letters to his wife, then daughter, Casey, when she gets old enough to write back. He is narrating this for us and I must say Cage's Southern accent is just flawless...except not. 

I was wondering why Casey has never visited her dad and we get this answer by Poe saying he doesn't want her to see her father this way, in jail. But then why hasn't his wife ever visited him? Unless she did and I just misunderstood. IDK...I guess it doesn't really matter. The last eight years really don't matter! It's time for Poe to go home! He gets to go on a plane with other prisoners that are being transported. I was so confused because I didn't know where they were. Why was he not in a prison in Alabama? I think they were somewhere in California, but I don't know why he would be serving time there. I guess it's so he would be on the prison plane, aptly named the Jailbird. I don't think the logistics really matter. We just need some bad guys on this plane! And bad guys we will get!

There's Cyrus aka Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) who is 39 years old and has spent the last 25 years in prison which means he would have been 14 when he was sent to prison! Good Lord, what the hell did he do at age 14 to get that sentence? I feel like somebody did their math wrong and the screenplay wasn't checked! They did say he killed other men in prison so in fairness, he probably got more time tacked on for that. There's gangster and Black Guerilla member Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames). There's Danny Trejo playing a rapist, there's a very young Dave Chappelle playing PinBall. I think he was in there for drugs. The only other "good" prisoner besides Poe is his cellmate and friend. I forget his name, but we'll call him Bubba because the actor played Bubba in Forrest Gump. I forget why he was in there. All the prisoners are seated in chairs and are handcuffed and leg cuffed. The really bad guys (the Cyrus the Viruses and Diamond Dogs) are locked in steel cages.

U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack) is overseeing the flight. He has a strict no guns allowed policy on the plane. (They only have one locked in a box and a few in storage). A DEA agent, Malloy, wants one of his men (disguised as a prisoner) to carry a gun. He is on the plane to get's really not important because the decoy prisoner ends up dying...spoiler alert! Malloy sneaks a gun on him but it ends up working against him. Malloy is a real piece of work. He drives a fast, shiny convertible and when he shows Larkin, he tells him it's beautiful and Malloy replies with, "Babies are beautiful, sunsets are beautiful; this, this is effing spectacular!" The vanity plate reads "AZZ KIKR" (as in "ass kicker") He's a real douche bag!

Once the plane takes off, we see Dave Chappelle start taking a piece of string out of his mouth. Attached to this string is some lighter fluid and a match that he swallowed. (This isn't even plausible, is it?) Everyone is watching him...everyone, apparently, EXCEPT the guards. And there are at least four that I remember. Plus two pilots. What the hell are they doing? Playing rummy in the cargo area? They only have one job and that is to WATCH the DANGEROUS prisoners. Chappelle lights the guy next to him on fire (I would be so pissed if I were that guy!) and this starts a riot. The guards are trying to get fire extinguishers and in the chaos, Chappelle steals the keys and unlocks the cages. The pilots hear the commotion in the cockpit and the co-pilot takes the gun out of the lockbox and goes to inspect, but Cyrus (the Virus!) immediately takes the gun from him and shoots him. He also shoots a few of the (non-important) prisoners in the mayhem. He goes to the cockpit and tells the pilot to tell ground control that everything is under control.

They make a pitstop in Carson City to pick up some more prisoners. (They have everyone fooled because they're wearing the guards uniforms). Here we meet Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) a man who "makes the Manson family look like the Partridge family." He killed 30 people in the East Coast. When we are first introduced to him, he has a mask on his face ala Hannibal Lecter and has to be led by poles attached to his armored suit. You think a guy they're treating like that would have the physique like The Rock, (excuse me, Dwayne Johnson), but no, it's scrawny little Steve Buscemi which makes it the most brilliant casting ever! Although probably the worst wrap-sheet of all the prisoners on the plane, he doesn't even engage in any of the chaos (besides Poe and Bubba). He kind of goes off and does his own thing or chats about his creepy stories. One of the hosts on How Did That Get Made? thought maybe he was wrongly accused which was hilarious because he tells this really gruesome story about what he did with one corpse after he killed her. So, no, he was NOT wrongly accused of murdering 30 people!

Pinball has died because they forgot him when the plane took off and he's running, trying to catch it and gets caught in the wheels...IDK, but when Poe and one of the bad guys (I forget who) go down there to inspect, Poe uses the corpse to write a message on Pinball's shirt before they release him. We next cut to a scene where an old couple are stopped at a red light in their car and a bird poops on the windshield and the old man complains about it. We all know what's going to happen next. We see Pinball's body falling from the sky, getting closer and closer to that intersection. The body thumps on the car, leaving a big dent. Now, I don't think you would just get a nice little thump if a body had just fallen thousands and thousands of feet from the sky. There is no way that message would be readable; that body would be obliterated! But because this is a Hollywood film, Larkin gets the message and knows what he needs to do. He steals the DEA douche's fast car and attempts to race the airplane to the next stop...which somehow he manages to do. That is one damn fast car!

So he gets there and meets up with Poe who is keeping up his cover to be part of the bad guy's crew so they don't suspect anything. Garland Greene does his own thing and sits down with a little girl who is playing pretend tea party at a nearby abandoned pool. He joins her and sings a song with her and it's so creepy because you're wondering if he's going to kill her...but he doesn't. Perhaps he's a changed man? The police come, but are not able to thwart the plane from taking off and Poe has hooked the nice sporty car to it and at this time the douchey DEA agent has come and he sees his car being flown in the air and then it crashes into thousands of pieces right in front of him and Larkin is like, "Sorry about your car." Haha!

Oh! I forgot to mention an "important" scene. Okay, so I should say it's Poe's daughter's birthday and he has somehow managed to get her a pink stuffed rabbit from the prison gift shop, I guess. One of the bad guys finds out he's actually a good guy and discovers the bunny when they're in the cargo area together and Poe tells him to "put the bunny down". Okay, I could have SWORN there was a weapon in the bunny like a knife or something. I thought the bunny's head gets ripped off and a knife is discovered by Poe and he kills the bad guy. That never happens. The bunny is never damaged (well, except it's filthy and soaking wet when it does get to the little girl, but it was never torn apart). Poe does kill the guy but not with help from the bunny.

Okay, so they finally land the plane in Las Vegas right in the middle of the Strip and they crash into a hotel and it hits a casino machine and lots of money comes out in the street. Diamond Dog and Cyrus the Virus escape but both are killed in their attempt. All the bad guys are either killed or caught. Poe is reunited with his wife and daughter and it is hilarious that he didn't want to his daughter to see him in jail, but now he's dirty with sweat and blood from all the killing he's done (of all bad guys, but still!) The last scene shows Garland Greene at a casino.

Now I love a good airplane action movie and I have reviewed a few. As far as how I would rank it against the others, I would put it higher than Passenger 57, but lower than Air Force One and Executive Decision. This movie is completely ridiculous and makes no sense, but it's a fun, dumb movie.

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