Con Air Cover A mate of mine once said to me 'Did you know that it's statistically proven theres more chances of us dying whilst driving a car, than whilst flying in an airplane?'. Granted, it was a nice little piece of trivia for him to impart onto me. I just wished that he didn't shout it down my bloody ear halfway through this movie Directed by Simon West; and Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and Ving Rhames. It was made in 1997 and lasted for 115 minutes.

Con Air

So there he was. One-time military man / present-time parolee, Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage). Strapped down next to his diabetic buddy, Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson), and surround by his fellow-felons and many armed-guards. When suddenly -- BANG! -- the mass-murderer, Cyrus Grissom (John Malkovich), hijacks the plane Cameron's currently on, before he can fly to freedom and his see his wife and child after the eight long years he's been away from them.

OK. I must confess. Cyrus 'The Virus' isn't the only convict who commandeers this flying fortress. Oh no. There's also Nathan Jones (Ving Rhames): the Negro activist that has one hell of an itch to scratch. William Bedford (Nick Chinlund): the very bad man with the very nice beard. Johnny Baca (Danny Trejo): the Mexican rapist who has an eye for the pretty Spanish guard, Sally Bishop (Rachel Ticotin). And let's not forget Joe Parker (Dave Chappelle): the loud-mouthed punk who bites the bullet not so long after they alight at Carson City.

Yeah. I'm not messing with you, dear reader! This gaggle of goons actually manages to outsmart the authorities by dropping off a couple 'of passengers', plus picking up a few more -- including the sociopath, Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) -- when they refuel at this very windy location.

Yet, whilst saying that, by this time, two law enforcers -- entitled U.S. Marshal, Vince Larkin (John Cusack), and DEA Agent, Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney) -- both catch wind of what's going on with Cyrus and company. And with a bit of outside help from the aforementioned Mister Po, they find a way to figure out where the airplane in question is heading to next.

Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when a gaggle of goons tries to touch down on uncharted soil. As confrontations are bold - a bunny is like gold - Las Vegas here we come - just in time to see a daughter and her Mum.

Now there is one thing you have to pay very close attention to whilst watching 'Con Air'. No. This has nothing to do with Nicolas Cage's bunny. There wasn't anything wrong with that fine creature. Instead, you have to realise that this flick told a situation rather than a story, yet it does it so well, you hardly even notice the difference.

You see, unlike many other 'situation' type films I care not to mention -- such as Bulletproof Monk  -- this one just lavishes the screen with so much personality and character, it's very loose pretext appears enhanced in retrospect. Furthermore, because there are so many bold scenes scattered throughout this piece, advertently it bestowed unto us -- the audience -- a very nice and pithy segway to associate with the players involved.

Steve Buscemi in Con Air
Here, let me tell you what I mean by this in bullet-point form. (1) Now if this film was a piece of cake, Steve Buscemi would most definitely be the icing on top of it. Hand's down. Steve's Hannibal Lecter imitation was so well thought-out, that in that scene where he and the little down were sitting down together and singing, a small part of me expected him to rip off her head with his teeth. (2) Although people like Ving, Nick, Danny, and Dave, all had marginally smaller parts to play in this film; that is not to say they didn't add a lot of flavour and conceptual depth to their respective roles. If you take my previous cake analogy into consideration, I'd like to think of them as the baser ingredients which held everything into place. (3) Of course the standouts for me have to be both Nicholas and the two Johns. I mean -- Wow! -- What can I say? These fine actors just made you believe what they were going through at any given moment. I especially liked following Nick's frustration and eventual resolution with his own family. Honestly. It brought a tear to my filmic-eye. (4) As a situation in its own right, all in all 'Con Air' was a very nice and fun situation to spend some time with. For me -- personally -- it was like seeing a very-very perverse school field-trip, gradually going terribly-terribly wrong. Just swap a bunch of pupils for a bunch of convicts. Ha! (5) Another of the standouts for me has to be the very militaristic background music which was played on occasion. Not only did it elevate the dramatic tension in tone, but it also complemented the mood by default.

John and Co in Con Air

Nick in Con Air
Now if you take a brief glimpse at the sentence below, you can most probably guess what I will be doing next. Yes. That's correct. It's time for some filmic-facts: (1) 'Touchstone Pictures' released this $75 million dollar production on the 6th of June, 1997, eventually making back $224 million dollars at the box office. (2) The concept behind this movie was allegedly inspired by a newspaper article about a plane that transports convicts between locations. (3) If you listen to what Cameron Poe says about the letter he receives from his daughter, you'll notice that his 'Jail bird flight' takes place on the 14th of July. In France, this is the exact same date that commemorates Bastille Day: where seven inmates were liberated from a prison. (4) I kid you not; the ballad played during the beginning and the end of this action-adventure -- sung by LeeAnn Rimes, called 'How Do I Live' -- was nominated for a 'Razzie' and an 'Oscar' for 'Worst Original Song' plus 'Best Original Song' respectively. It didn't win either. (5) This film was dedicated to the memory of Phil Swatz, who was a special effect chap that died during production when a 'rigged plane' accidentally fell on him. (6) When the production team caught wind about Las Vegas's intentions of demolishing the legendary Sands Hotel, immediately they arranged for a multiple camera setup to take advantage of the rare event. However, because the camera crews were so well concealed during the shoot -- plus the production values were so high -- local residence called the police when they saw the sight of the planes flying over the Strip. (7) Not only did Nicolas Cage travel to Alabama to perfect his accent for this movie, but he also worked out so much that his body only contained 3% body fat. (8) Now did you get the reference stated by Steve Buscemi's character, Garland Green, nearing the end of this flick: 'Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash', whilst the 'Lynyrd Skynryd' song, 'Sweet Home Alabama', is playing in the background. Particularly when you take into consideration three members of this group died in a plane crash on the 20th of October, 1977, and it was the model Convair 240.

Cusak and Guard in Con Air

Overall, 'Con Air' is one hell of a great film. Its chock full of action and personality, and is able to tell a rather lavish situation in a very personable fashion. Don't you agree 'Lynyrd Skynryd'?



CON AIR CON AIR Reviewed by David Andrews on May 13, 2013 Rating: 5
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