Con Air

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Alex Lau

Summer is definitely here, and the evidence is in the high-testosterone, big-budget, low-IQ films that are coming out in rapid succcession. "Con Air," the latest entry in the blockbuster derby, is no exception.

"Con Air" stars Nicholas Cage as Cameron Poe, an Army Ranger who's thrown into prison after killing a man while protecting his wife. After serving his term, he's about to be paroled and transported home to see his young daughter, who was conceived before his conviction.

However, apparently due to budget cutting, the feds won't spring for a commercial flight, and instead, he gets on a plane filled with the worst of the worst, headed for a new maximum-security prison in Alabama. Among these bad guys are Ving Rhames, as "Diamond Dog" Jones, a black militant leader, and John Malkovich, as Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, known as the "poster boy for the criminally insane."

I won't bore you with plot details, because there aren't many. Somehow "Cyrus The Virus" gets control of the plane, and all of a sudden it's the good bad guys, like Cage, versus the bad bad guys, like Malkovich.

Cage seems to be on an action movie kick lately, first with last year's "The Rock," and now "Con Air" and the upcoming "Face/Off." This is the guy who won an Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas," and now he's coming back to Vegas with a plane full of criminals. I started losing sympathy for him when his Southern accent actually changed, becoming less like Rhett Butler and more like his character in "Raising Arizona." And that was in the first 10 minutes.

The problems with this movie are legion. There are too many characters, so each and every one has to be pigeonholed into a stereotype. Cage's character is so goody-goody as to be boring. Both John Cusack, as a US Marshal, and Steve Buscemi, as a twisted mass murderer, are wasted, in different ways.

Yes, there are some entertaining parts, between all the explosions and gunfire. But as hard as it tries, "Con Air" just can't hide its inadequacies with a big boom.

© 1997 Alex Lau Air Date: 6/11/97

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