Bullet Points: Con Air
Saying that Nicolas Cage is one of the best living action stars might lead you to laugh uncontrollably but just give me a minute to try and prove my point. First of all, forget for a second that Cage is an Oscar Award Winning actor. Forget that he starred in great non-action films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, and Adaptation. And lastly, try to have a Nic Cage Marathon with these five movies; The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, Kick-Ass, and Drive Angry and you tell me whether or not you’ve gained an immense amount of respect for Cage as an action star. He might seem like a joke to some people because his hair looks like it could fly away at any moment but the man has kicked some serious ass over the past 20 years. Best living action star might be a stretch, but a damn fine one for sure.
The Gist: Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is put in prison for 8 years for accidentally killing a man outside of a bar when he and his pregnant wife are assaulted. Now the former Army Ranger is onboard a plane full of convicts heading home. That is until Cyrus “The Virus” (John Malkovich) takes over the plane and uses it to escape the authorities. It’s up to Poe to save his dying friend and make it home in time for his daughter’s birthday cake.
The Cast: This was during the whole “I’m gonna be an action star” portion of Nic Cage’s career. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But he went from making critically acclaimed films to doing stuff like Con Air and Face/Off. It is said that Nicolas Cage went down to Alabama to study their accent but it sounds like he just watched Forrest Gump a couple of times. Mykelti Williamson played Bubba in that, by the way. Cage is pretty jacked and he does a good job with all of the action scenes but I could have done without the crazy hair and slurred Southern accent. The supporting cast is pretty great. I especially liked Colm Meaney as the DEA guy and Steve Eastin, who played Guard Falzon deserves a shout out. John Cusack’s career has had an interesting trajectory and this is one of his earliest action films. Currently he’s blowing up in China with Jackie Chan in Dragon Blade.
Nothing like ripping a gruesome smelling fart outdoors….and never having to smell it.
The Villain: John Malkovich has the ability to both overact and seem like he’s not even trying at the same time. I really love him as a sociopathic killer and it only helps that he’s surrounded by a bunch of awesome supporting murderers and rapists. Danny Trejo, Ving Rhames, Nick Chinlund, and Steve Buscemi are the first to come to mind. Cyrus “The Virus” was a pretty awesome villain but he so rarely acted illogically and I would have preferred him to be a little crazier. The guy really did have everything under control and a real madman would have killed Poe at the first sign of him being a nuisance instead of dragging him along and agreeing with most of what he said. In the end, he was stabbed, smashed through a building, electrocuted on power lines, and then smashed by a giant mechanized hammer thingy. Why the hell was that thing there anyways? That was like the thing you find in a bad James Bond movie or the old Batman show from the 60’s. Buscemi somehow tells a story about cutting a girls head off and wearing it like a hat and then gets cheered at the end for escaping into Las Vegas. How does that happen?
I promise you that Cyrus does more villainous things than this throughout the film.
The Action: This is where Con Air goes from fun to brilliant. I loved it during Cage’s “pure action” phase. Between this, The Rock, and Face/Off, you have three of the best action films of the 1990’s. It takes a little while to get to the action and it might have helped if we had a scene at the beginning to set up The Virus but once they take the plane it is full go from there on out. The finale with the crash into Las Vegas was pretty cool but Colm Meaney’s character was right, they definitely should have shot the plane down in the desert instead of letting it crash and kill God knows how many people.
Cage must run the equivalent of a half-marathon during the film. Things just keep exploding behind him.
Take it Home:
- Favorite Quotes: “Man it smells like someone shit in your mouth.” “He told me he loved me.”
- Favorite Quotes: Cage has a ton of cheesy one-liners but I love it, “What’s wrong with him?” “My first thought would be….a lot.”
- Director: Simon West’s first feature film.
- It’s still better than 2012: John Cusack dislikes this film so much he refuses to be interviewed about it.
- Being John Malkovich: John Malkovich was pissed during production cause the script was being rewritten on a daily basis and he never knew what was up with his character.