Con Air

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OK, this movie is no Schindler’s List, but it’s not Beastmaster II: Through the Portals of Time either. Con Air has all the things that make a decent action movie a better action movie: really good acting, unique visuals (despite the marketing campaign’s obsession with the one shot of Nicholas Cage walking in slo-mo away from a fireball), and two things which heighten tension for me: characters who are not 100% good or bad, and the claustrophobia of being trapped in a closed area (in this case, an airplane). Not to say that plenty isn’t thrown away in favor of some pyrotechnics.

Steve Buscemi is utterly wasted in this film, and some of the villains were interesting enough that I wouldn’t have minded knowing a little more about them. I like to think that I, unlike many reviewers these days, know when to shut up and enjoy the ride, and I did enjoy it.

With so many talented, savvy actors on this train (Ving Rhames, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Colm Meaney, Nicholas Cage, Steve Buscemi, several other familiar faces) I know that much of the moments of humor or business that I found interesting must have come about on the set rather than in the script-writing process. Even a turkey like Showgirls would have been better had it been populated with actors working *with* the script instead of popsicle sticks making a bad thing worse.

The script is peppered with clever humorous bits, and it makes the movie worth seeing. I don’t have to tell you how it ends, but you don’t have to know how it gets there. John Cusack made a suprisingly spunky action star himself, without being too unbelievable (despitre his inappropriate footwear). It’s exciting and funny and the acting is great. But it’s just an action movie. You make the money call, but I was willing to pay full price.

MPAA Rating R – language, violence
Release date 6/9/97
Time in minutes 115
Director Michael Bay
Studio Touchstone Pictures