A freshly paroled former US Ranger finds himself trapped on-board a prison airplane that gets hijacked by the criminals it is carrying.
After a drunken brawl leaves a man dead, ex-US Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is charged with manslaughter and is sent to jail three months before his daughter is born. Years later, he is eligible for parole and it finally looks like he’ll get to meet his little girl in person. His ride home is a prison plane that transfers convicts between prisons in different states, and unfortunately for Cameron, he boards the plane that happens to get hijacked by the criminally insane but highly intelligent Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom (John Malkovich) and a few other cons who contributed to the plan. With the authorities remaining one step behind the convicts for quite some time, it is up to Cameron to make sure that his reunion with his family doesn’t have to wait any longer than it already has, while doing everything he can to help those who also hadn’t planned on their trip panning out this way either.
I first watched Con Air a couple of years ago, and I have to say I enjoyed it just as much now as I did then, although it has to be said that it is little more than Die Hard on a plane – Nicolas Cage even has the matching vest! While it may not be the most earth-shattering film ever to be made, nor the best film of either of the three main actor’s careers, it certainly has it’s plus points that make it a fun watch.
This film contains perhaps one of the best, and definitely the most quoted Nicolas Cage line of all time. I can’t imagine anyone else saying ‘Put the bunny back in the box,’ quite like he did. This is one of my favourite roles of his and I think quite a few people feel the same way. Cage channelled his inner John McClane as Cameron, and no matter how many times I found his dialect borderline ridiculous, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for him to ground that plane and get himself home.
John Malkovich is the main reason I rewatched this film recently. He certainly is an actor who has shown us how wide his range of abilities truly is. As Cyrus ‘The Virus’, he took on the role of the ultimate menace to society, and I have to say that he was a very good villain. If you don’t know by now, I am someone who really enjoys seeing an intelligent person doing bad things on-screen (and I don’t mean good actors starring in bad films when I say that). Criminal masterminds are up there with some of my favourite movie villains, and I thought Malkovich and Cage both complimented each other quite well with their approaches to their characters, which is maybe why Con Air works as well as it should for me.
As I’ve said, the plot for this film could be mistaken for being the instalment of the Die Hard franchise that took place on a plane that they couldn’t get Bruce Willis to sign on for. However, I wouldn’t say I’m a film snob and so I love a run-of-the-mill action flick as much as anyone else. It’s quite easy-going and doesn’t require too much brainpower, so while it may be quite conventional as far as action thrillers go, it provides a couple of hours’ worth of fun explosions and decent characters that make it worth your time.
On the whole, I would say that Con Air certainly isn’t ground-breaking, but is worth seeing if you’re a fan of anyone in it, or if you just have nothing else to do. There’s plenty of action, some big explosions, a few laughs (not entirely sure if all are intentional) and a little bit of the lovey-dovey stuff for the hopeless romantic in all of us. It’s a solid film that I would say everyone should check out at some point.
This review was first posted on Film And TV 101