Con Air (1997)

Con Air (1997)

Director: Simon West

By the time Nicolas Cage (Cameron Poe) utters the moving line “I’m going to show you God does exist” and takes a bullet without flinching, Con Air has teleported us right back to the grand (but cheesy) days of the 1990s. Watching the archetypal Hollywood action thriller of its day is quite a nostalgic experience. It made me miss the years when people were optimistic and didn’t realise bankers were wankers.

Cage is probably the most ridiculed leading man in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, he has starred in 35 films since Con Air, with another seven due to come out in the next couple of years. He’s almost addicted to making films, hence the proliferation this side of the millennium. Taking nothing away from his quirky redneck character, the rest of the main cast is what really makes Con Air tick.

John Malkovich plays Cyrus (“The Virus”) who takes over a prison transport plane carrying the country’s most notorious criminals and Cage, who’s just got parole and wants to see his “baby dawta.” A bunch of thugs taking over a plane doesn’t go down well, so the long arm of the law reaches out in the form of John Cusack and Colm Meaney. While wearing the classic 90s wide-cut suits and squabbling like a married couple, the two somehow have to get the plane back. The story revolves around this premise quite nicely and introduces a myriad of entertaining yet squeamish supporting characters, all with histories that the audience is let in on – look out for Garland Greene. Steve Buscemi produces an amazing performance as an untreatable psycho who seems like going off at any time but never does, adding a huge element of suspense to the piece.

The film isn’t lacking in action sequences, with plenty of punch-ups, stick-ups and shoot-ups. You’ll see some aerial combat and plenty of shots fired. And Cyrus masterminds all of it, somehow creating order out of the anarchy of these newly liberated prisoners.

Overall, Con Air is about one man (or god) overcoming the world’s most dangerous brutes to reunite himself with his family. For some 90s melancholy, corny dialogue and well-timed actions scenes, look no further.
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2013.
Posted 3:03pm Sunday 26th May 2013 by Tim Lindsay.