CON AIR (1997) 

Nicolas Cage
John Malkovich
John Cusack
Ving Rhames
Steve Buscemi
Nick Chinlund
Colm Meaney
Rachel Ticotin
Mykelti Williamson
David Chappelle
Danny Trejo
Monica Potter

Simon West



Time: 115 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action

Academy Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Song.

Now you would think that a film starring some of cinema's best actors would be good, right? Well.... I really don't know what goes through an actor's mind when choosing new material to star in and as far as this film is concerned, I think that they were all drunk when they read the script. I can somewhat understand the allure of this big exciting action film. They all needed the money and thought it would be a good career boost to star in the action film of the summer. Too bad they weren't offered AIR FORCE ONE.

It's an interesting concept: a bunch of prisoners take over the plane being used to transport them from one maximum security prison to another. The kink in their plan is a good guy sent up the river for accidently killing a man while trying to protect his wife. It was a clear cut case of self-defense to me, but because Cage was a Marine, he's considered a deadly weapon who should have known better. Too bad we didn't have his jury sitting on the O.J. trial. I think the outcome would have been very different.

He, of course, redeems himself by attempting to stop these bad, bad men from pulling off their dastardly plan. All by himself. Go Marines! Mayhem, blood and death ensue. There's a massive gun battle in the desert and a crazy ending that has the plane careening down the Vegas Strip crashing into the lobby of the Sands Hotel. To tie up all the loose ends, Malkovich gets his comeuppance in a weird and violent way.

Though exceedingly implausible from beginning to end, this is certainly not the worst film I've ever seen. It actually has some really fun moments thanks to the Johns. Malkovich because he plays psychos so well – civilized, yet brutal – and Cusack because he's extremely likable as the little underdog that could. The rest of the crew are passable in their performances. Buscemi gets the "Biggest Creep-out" award for a scene where he has "tea" with a young girl. His character is a murdering pedophile, so you don't have to imagine the implications. I don't have kids and it made me want to step out of the room.

"Are you with me or do you need me to draw it in crayon like usual?"

CON AIR's main problem is that the whole concept is just rife with stupidity and over-the-top machismos. I know it's an action movie and I shouldn't expect anything different from Mr. Bruckheimer, but this was just too much to take. It's funny to me to see Cage become this action hero. Ten years ago, people would've laughed if you even suggested it, especially after such goofy turns in films like RAISING ARIZONA and HONEYMOON IN VEGAS. Of course 20 years ago, Oscar-winner Tom Hanks was wearing a dress on television, so I guess anything is possible.

It's equally amazing that the man who won the Best Actor Oscar for such a gripping and intense performance in LEAVING LAS VEGAS would choose a film like this. I guess everyone has to cleanse their palate once in awhile. He looked good all buffed up, which for this film was half the battle. Maybe the fact that it ends in Vegas, a recurring location in his films, made it too hard to resist. CON AIR has some enjoyable sequences if you like action movies and don't have a problem with believability or mindless mayhem.

home | reviews | actors | actresses | film heaven | all reviews