Con Air (1997) – Simon West

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The third of Nic Cage’s action trio from the late 90s makes its appearance on the 101 Action Movies list in this film directed by Simon West.

Cage plays retired Ranger Cameron Po, who after his service is eager to rejoin his newly pregnant wife (Monica Potter) to raise their child together. On their first night back together, an incident at a bar leaves a man dead at Po’s hand as he was defending he and his wife from 3 thugs.

Sentenced to prison for 7 years, we see Cameron and his family communicating via letter until that day he’s to be released, and is catching a flight with a bunch of fellow inmates to be processed out.

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Unfortunately the cons on the plane have another idea, led by Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames) they do the impossible, and seize the plane, with Po and his cellmate, diabetic Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson) stuck in the middle.

Following Ranger code to leave no man behind, Po refuses an opportunity to get off the plane and with the help of DOJ agent Vince Larkin (John Cusack) on the ground, Po plans to save the day, and meet his daughter for the first time.

The action is loud, over the top, and enjoyably fun, as you get top of the roster actors chewing dialogue and scenery. Names like Colm Meaney, Steve Buscemi, Dave Chappelle, Rachel Ticotin, Danny Trejo, and M.C. Gainey.

West directs the film deftly, never letting the audience go from the film’s opening to its closing sequence in Vegas, allowing a little bit of sentimentality to overshadow the film with Po’s need to be reunited with his family again, brought to the screen by Trisha Yearwood’s heartbreaking rendition of “How Do I Live.”

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Cage plays Po as a likable type, but to lull his enemies into a false sense of security he seems to be happy to play the simple hill-billy type, which does allow for a lot of quotable and fun dialogue.

I’m also a huge Cusack fan so it’s fun to see him jumping into a bit of an action role, with his sandal and sock wearing Larkin, especially in the Bone Yard sequence where he and Po try to keep the plane on the ground long enough for the Calvary to arrive.

The film is undeniably good fun, as things blow-up and Cameron tries to figure out how to save the day.

Especially creepy is a sequence involving Buscemi who portrays a serial killer by the name of Garland Greene, sits and joins a little girl for a game of tea and a sing-a-long while the plane is grounded.

It is a basic paint-by-numbers film but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, and with explosions, chases, witty lines and stars looking like they are having a good time, what’s not to enjoy?

But of Nic Cage’s 3 big action flicks at the time, The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air, which one is your favorite?

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