Con Air (1996) : The Rock pt 2 ? [Mike’s Review]
Today on Cage Club we take to the sky in Con Air. Here we are with the second entry into the Cage Action Trilogy. To be honest it feels like we haven’t skipped a beat since The Rock, this movie opens with similar iconography and a very similar film look to it. Throughout this movie I will be reminded of little moments from The Rock that are echoed here in Con Air, mostly the same action tropes such as “man on fire” and “hilarious one-liners”. We have the same producer here with Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s name is synonymous with American Action Entertainment, but a new director with Simon West. In all honesty there is very little difference that I can see in his style compared to Michael Bay, but then again Bruckheimer may have been steering the ship in a certain direction to acquire the same feelings that The Rock evoked. There is always the chance they went with West because his stuff just looks so similar to Bay, either way both these movies look really great, glossy and very expensive. I think whatever happened behind the scenes they pulled it off. This movie is just as much fun as The Rock and even manages to amp everything up a level, making it almost surrealistic fantasy and taking it into full on Looney Tunes mode.
Cage plays Cameron Poe, what an awesome name ! He’s an Army Ranger that’s home from war or just on leave, it’s not exactly clear. When he gets home to Mobile, Alabama he’s jumped at a bar by some locals that need to prove something. They picked the wrong guy to mess with because Poe’s hands are lethal weapons and sure enough he kills one of the assailants in self defense. He is given 8 years in prison and we see in a montage thru letters that his wife has had their daughter while he’s locked away. The movie covers 8 years in about 5 minutes time, very efficient short hand storytelling. When Poe is released from jail he is given a ride back home to Alabama on a plane transporting prisoners. This is an actual thing that happens in real life, just not to this degree. For some reason the US Marshal who’s in charge of this plane figured it would be a good idea to transport the worst of the worst prisoners in the country all on the same day and on the same flight. This genius is Agent Larkin played by John Cusack. Aside from this he becomes the most competent authority member but not by much. As you would expect, the plane is overtaken by the prisoners led by Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, who’s a criminal mastermind that spend most his life behind bars. There are a lot of colorful Cons on the flight like Diamond Dog, a black militant played by Ving Rhames, or Steve Buscemi as a Hannibal Lecter-esque mass murderer. There’s Pinball, Swamp Thing, Billy Bedlam… the only people with more nick names are the mobsters in Goodfellas. Poe is an Army Ranger and not really a Con although technically he is but really his crime was just and he was defending his wife. He decides to make it his mission to stop these Cons from taking the plane out of the country and save the innocents on board.
It’s all working for me and not just the Nic Cage stuff, which is amazing, some of his best work yet as far as his silent emoting goes. I know this is preposterous but I don’t care, it’s all functioning within’ the established perimeters of the world. This movie is way more of an ensemble film and while Cage’s character is the main guy he is caught up in a veritable who’s who of a supporting cast. The whole sub plot between the DEA agent Malloy and Marshals Larkin not working together and showing their ineptitude is another token theme of not just Bruckheimer action films but the genre in general. The DEA thinks they can muscle their way into this operation and plant a guy onboard to get information from one of the prisoners, a cartel drug lord. The only one that can really get the job done at the end of the day is the anti-hero, the man convicted of manslaughter, not the ones who are trained to protect the peace. It all culminates, where else, Las Vegas, where Con Air make a crash landing and manages to sneak in a car chase before the movie ends. Well, it’s really a motorcycle chasing a firetruck but hey, semantics. Poe finally gets to meet his 8 year old Daughter and kiss his beautiful wife, as How Do I Live buy Trisha Yearwood swells and credits roll.
Next up on Cage Club we close out the Action Trilogy with perhaps the most insane of the three, and that’s saying something. Cage goes to to to with himself next week on Cage Club with Face/Off. Travolta V Cage in one of the all time greatest act-offs even committed to screen.