Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Con Air

Year: 1997
Running time: 115 minutes
Certificate: 18
Language: English
Screenplay: Scott Rosenberg
Director: Simon West
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Colm Meaney, Mykelti Williamson, Nick Chinlund, Danny Trejo, M. C. Gainey, Jesse Borrego, Steve Buscemi, Renoly Santiago, Dave Chappelle, Rachel Ticotin, Steve Eastin, Monica Potter, Landry Allbright

Nic had forgotten to pack the Pantene again.
Like many movies produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Con Air is a bit of a guilty pleasure – you know that it’s not clever, artistic or attempting to relay a message; it’s just that blowing shit up is cool. And nobody blows shit up like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage, on his post-Oscar action-hero credibility-wrecking trip) is a U.S. soldier who fatally injures a man while fighting off an attack by a group of drunken town hicks. Sent to prison for eight years, his pregnant wife Tricia (Monica Potter) must raise their daughter Casey (Landry Allbright) alone until his release. When he finally does get released, he really should get sent straight back for crimes against hair. But then again, what's a Nic Cage film without ridiculous hair? Catching a ride with Poe, we just so happen to have the scummiest scum on the planet, led by Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (John Malkovich), who have plans of their own, largely involving escape while causing maximum carnage.

After this, it's up to our hairy hero to save the day and get Casey's bunny to her in one piece pretty much single-handedly - there is some on-the-ground assistance given by U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack), but he spends most of his time bickering with grumpy DEA knob Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney). That's the high-concept set-up, all there is to do after grasping that is watch the sparks fly. And my, my, what sparks.

You can forgive Nic Cage’s awful accent (how Cage kept a straight face while delivering the line "Put the bunny back in the box" is beyond me) and dreadful hair, you can almost forgive that horrific theme song, because, well, they drag a sports car through the air behind a plane, and then crash said plane into Las Vegas. The action isn't particularly bloodthirsty, but does enough to earn Con Air an 18 certificate - a point brought up here because I remember when I saw it at the cinema it was only a 15, and became an 18 when released on video/DVD, and the only other film I know of that did that is Verhoven's Starship Troopers. I've never worked out the reason why - did the BBFC change its mind, or are there additional scenes? One of life's great unsolved mysteries, I guess.

Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom: Poster child for the criminally insane.
Cusack, usually being rather more cerebral in his choice of parts, doesn’t quite seem at home in this film (which actually makes him a fine choice, because that pretty much describes his character), but everyone else, particularly Malkovich and Steve Buscemi (as nut-job serial killer Garland 'The Marietta Mangler' Greene) are obviously having a whale of a time - the two of them share of the best lines between them, with the exception of Cage's aforementioned bunny/box fiasco.

The ending is great as well – not because Poe gets to give the bunny to his little girl after all, but because Grissom gets possibly one of the most bizarrely elaborate death scenes ever and especially because the movie ends on a joke about a convicted, obviously insane (but, just possibly, following a sing-a-long hymn with a little girl, reformed) serial killer being free and on the loose.

Long live the Bruckheimer action movie!

Score: 7/10

Whether you like Con Air or not I think depends on how much disbelief you'll be willing to suspend - the film knows full well it's ridiculous, but it's determined to have fun all the same. That's why you get reviews with varied opinions in them like this one from Janet at the New York Times, who quite liked it, or this one from James at Reelviews, who didn't.