I’m not going to spend a lot of effort diagnosing this movie, because there is not much to diagnose. It’s an almost plot-free production, the main effort apparently being to impress viewers with the skill and determination of the stunt and special effects people at Jerry Bruckheimer Films. This came out 20 years ago (1997) and stars Nicolas Cage, whose presence generally signals something quirky. It’s Con Air, concerning escapades related to an attempted prisoner escape. The title derives from the nickname of the American government’s prisoner air transport system. This played on Hulu last month, and I’m getting details from Wikipedia. I will keep it simple.
Cage is ex Army Ranger Sergeant Cameron Poe, fresh off active duty and back home to make snuggle bunnies with his cute wife Tricia (Monica Potter). Trouble begins with the homecoming kiss in a Mobile, Alabama, bar, as a drunken jerk horns in, insulting sweet Tricia and challenging Sergeant Poe. The jerk continues his assault outside in the rain and ends up Hemingway-esque, dead, in the rain. Poe goes to the slam for ten years.
Paroled after eight, Poe is aboard a Con Air flight home to Alabama, along with some of the meanest creeps ever to draw time.
Of course, there is a plot to high-jack the flight, and some of the hardest of hard timers take over, killing some guards and diverting the flight to an airplane junk yard out in the desert (looks like Nevada or Arizona). A crash landing and an absconding getaway plane create some additional interest.
When the cops and the feds arrive there is a humongous battle with automatic weapons and explosive gas cannisters.
Unnecessary levity abounds when a new sports car, belonging to one of the feds, gets chained to the Con Air plane (appears to be a C-130). The plane takes off, towing the pricey set of wheels behind. We get to see the Corvette breaking free and falling to earth after clipping the control tower.
The cons run out of options and are forced to land. Apparently the only available space left in the state of Nevada is the Las Vegas Strip. By now it’s dark, and the C-130 finally extinguishes itself plowing through cars and casinos.
And that’s the end. No, it is not. Surviving cons are still free, and they high-jack a fire truck, racing to escape through the crowded Strip. Poe and a fed give chase. Here Poe clings to the extended ladder of of the hard charging firetruck.
Of course, all the crooks are killed or captured, and Poe gets hugs and kisses from Tricia and his darling daughter. And that’s the movie.
As mentioned, this is about stunts and special effects, and they are amazing, while nothing in the plot is believable. Hey! This is Hollywood. I was impressed that with all this stuff going on the production budget was only $75 million. Box office was $224 million, and that was before it got piped to Hulu, where I am paying dollars a month to watch stuff commercial-free.
I never saw Leaving Las Vegas, and my favorite Nicolas Cage film is Next, which I have yet to review. His darkest work has to be 8mm, with a plot centering on the supposed snuff film industry. I previously reviewed Gone in 60 Seconds, another thrill shot. Rumors of Cage’s religious quirkiness are fueled by his appearance in a reboot of the Left Behind series. For somebody whose countenance gives definition to the term hangdog, Cage seems to get all the major babes in the movies. Makes them worth watching.