[Movie Review] Con Air

Con AirStarring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovic, John Cusack
Simon West
Genre: Action
Cert: 18
Released: 1997

Those who know me, know of my strong dislike of big-budget-action-kick-ass-extravaganza-blockbuster-type, erm, films. Among those to feel my wrath have been “Independence Day”, “Jurassic Park” and “Batman Forever”. Could “Con Air” revolutionise the way I feel about action flicks?

Cameron Poe (Cage) is an all-American hero, returning from duty in the marines to see his beloved wife who works at a local bar. However, his life changes that night when a local drunk sets on him and his wife and Poe kills him in self-defence. Poe is sent down for 10 years for manslaughter with the knowledge that he won’t be there to see the birth of his unborn child.

Fast forward 8 years and Poe is released on parole. He is just one plane ride away from his wife and the daughter he has never seen. Unfortunately, he gets onto…con air. The roughest toughest crudest criminals in the world are being flown to another maximum security prison on Poe’s plane. These include Cyrus the Virus (Malkovic), Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames – “Pulp Fiction”, “Mission Impossible”), The Marietta Mangler (Steve Buscemi – “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”) and Johnny 23 (Danny Trejo). When a carefully choreographed plan to take over the plane is successfully hatched, Poe finds himself in the middle of a dynamic situation. He could get off con air if he wanted to but his sense of knowing right from wrong persuades him to try and put things right. Can he stop these criminal masterminds from causing mass chaos?

“Con Air” succeeds where so many action films have failed – casting. Take “Speed” for example – no, not the drug, the film. How many times did you cringe looking at Cardboard Reeves doing his ‘thang’? Well, worry not. Nicolas Cage, who could have been described as uncharasmatic for much of his career, is a revelation in the hero role. One-liners fly off his tongue like hot butter off a knife, his karate kicks hit every bullseye and how about the undoubted winning quote; ‘put the bunny back in the box’. Joining him for praise is the irrepressible John Malkovic. As the lead bad guy, Malkovic pulls all the strings on con air in a ‘plot sense’ as well as an ‘acting sense’. And for some reason he always reminds me of The Hooded Claw from ‘The Tales of Penelope Pitstop'(?).

Although the films tails off a little bit in the last half hour, it still deserves a watch for its comedy, its character, its action, its performances and entertainment value. Definitely one of the best action movies ever.


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