May 31, 2013

[Movies] Con Air (1997)

I had already mentioned Con Air in my review last week of National Treasure, so I figured that I might as well take some time to actually review this movie. And man, there's a lot of ground to cover here.

To be fair, it has been a number of years since I had last watched this movie. But it's just one of those flicks that sort of get burned to your memory - especially when it just so happens to be one of the movies in your family's home video collection. Needless to say, I ended up watching this movie more than once for one reason or another.

Given the years that have passed since its initial release, I was a little surprised to see that this movie was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer - and my surprise is mainly due to the fact that I was too young at the time to pay attention to these sorts of movie credits.

And I suppose it makes sense given the other movies that Bruckheimer has released and his rather interesting relationship with Nicolas Cage.

Synopsis: Con Air is a 1997 action thriller movie directed by Simon West with a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg. Surprisingly, the movie actually has Academy Award nominations - but they're specifically for Best Original Song and Best Sound Mixing. They didn't win of course - that was the Titanic year.

First we're introduced to honorably discharged US Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage), who is finally about to be released on parole after 8 years in a maximum security prison. He had been sent to jail for killing a drunk man who had threatened his pregnant wife, Tricia (Monica Potter). Now he is going to be flown home to Alabama along with several other maximum security prisoners.  DEA agent Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney) has added another agent, Willie Sims (José Zúñiga), as a false prisoner in the hopes of getting more information from drug lord Francisco Cindino (Jesse Borrego). But of course Malloy made sure to give Sims a gun for his protection.

Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (John Makovich) gets his fellow prisoners to incite a riot during the flight and the inmates eventually get to take control of the Jailbird. Of course Sims gets himself killed in his attempt to stop the inmates, thus giving them another weapon to use to commandeer the plane. Now US Marshall  Vince Larkin (John Cusack) has to try to find a way to locate the plane and recapture the prisoners - and it looks like Poe is his best chance of doing that. But there's no immediate way for the two to coordinate and thus Larkin is only working on an assumption about Poe's motivations.

To be fair, I suppose you can argue that the movie isn't all that bad. There's a lot of good action, a fairly interesting enough premise and some pretty compelling actors, especially for the convicts. Other than John Malkovich being, well, John Makovich, the movie also features the likes of Steve Buscemi as Garland Greene, Ving Rhames as Nathan Jones and later on Danny Trejo as Johnny Baca. Oh yes, it takes a particular kind of action movie to include Danny Trejo. And thus we can forgive Dave Chappelle being in the movie too.

My main bone of contention lies with Nicolas Cage being very, um, Nicolas Cage-y in this movie. Let's face it - the man was born in California and his limited vocal abilities means that he will always sound like a man from California. He will never sound like a man from Alabama with a thick Southern accent that justifies the use of the song How Do I Live? as a central theme in the movie.

Until this day, the way that he pronounces the line, "Put the bunny down" will forever haunt me And no, I won't provide clear context at this point as to what this line refers to.

This movie certainly has all the trappings of the blockbuster action movie. Big name stars, big explosions and some very big planes to boot. The movie is certainly tailored to try to appeal to the core action movie audience, and for that we have to give the movie credit. Beyond that, we just need to try to ignore Nicolas Cage's accent and hope the plot is able to carry the movie well enough without the lead actor.

Con Air is not a smart movie, nor does it need to be. It's all about the violence and the action and that darned bunny. Thus I'll rate the movie as 3 annoyances like trying to find insulin for a diabetic convict out of 5.

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