Throwback Thursday: Con Air
Con Air (1997) movie review
Released in June, 1997, Con Air is an action film starring Nicolas Cage as a former US Ranger who is on the last day of his sentence before his parole. However when his plane is taken over by a group of dangerous convicts, only he and a special agent can save the day! The film has gone down as an action classic, with a solid 75% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics however are not as big on the film, with only a 55% critic score on RT. While the film only actually grossed just over $100 million in the US (and Canada) on a budget of $75 million, it did end up more than doubling that worldwide.
I could lie and say we are talking about Con Air today because Michael Bay has a new movie opening tonight- but Michael bay didn’t make Con Air… Or I could say it’s because Nick Cage has a new movie coming out later this month… But in truth, we watched Con Air for the first time last night and we just had to talk about it! Why? Because we just did NOT like it. So with that said, let’s talk about maybe the worst Southern accent in movie history!
First of all, this is a Nicolas Cage movie, but Nick Cage somehow isn’t the most entertaining performance in it. How does that happen?? John Malkovich? Complete show-stealer. In fact he was easily my favorite thing about this movie. John Cusack is -fine. I thought Colm Meaney was hands down one of the most unrealistically annoying characters I’ve ever seen in a movie. And everyone in the lesser cast is pretty okay. Steve Buscemi was great! But he isn’t even important to the movie. But Nicolas Cage was the real disappointment here. I feel like this movie rarely knew what to do with him, so half the movie he just underreacts to things, and the other half he’s just talking about his daughter or running to an electric guitar rift. (Solid soundtrack though!)
The pacing in this movie is also just not very good. We spend too much time in the setup, then we take a while for the actual story to get going. When the plane takeover kicks off it does get pretty entertaining! But what should have been a bottle story stuck in the plane quickly lands the plane, takes off again, lands again, and fills the rest of the runtime with random action scenes in a junkyard and then in Las Vegas. And at that point it’s just not interesting. As soon as they starting just randomly shooting at cops the movie gets totally boring. There’s a reason that all the famous moments are on the plane! Because the movie is only ever interesting on this stupid plane!
So speaking of Michael Bay, this movie’s tone was so obviously inspired by Michael Bay-type action movies that it made wish Bay actually directed it. The 90s action directors like Bay and Woo and de Bont and even Mann really left their visual mark on the genre in a way that directors like Simon West simply couldn’t capture. The editing is often jarring, the screen direction is often very overdramatic and downright silly- and yeah I know it’s a very silly movie that you have to turn your brain off for, but this also never felt… good. So many 90s action movies that this inspired feel silly, but since they are good, there’s something just so entertaining about them! I mean Speed (1994)- that bus jump. It’s so silly. But it’s a good movie, so I don’t mind when that movie goes full 90s. But Con Air is trying to go full 90s first and good movie second…
So I expected Con Air to be a big, dumb, mindless action movie. I didn’t expect not to like it. The formula is there! But because of some generally poor direction, rocky pacing, a somehow confusing story, and not enough Cage, the movie felt pretty forgettable. Maybe it’s because it’s just not as good as other 90s action movies, or maybe it’s just not good. But I did not like Con Air. Sure if you haven’t seen it and you feel the need to, it’s not horrible. But I don’t think it’s worth watching at all. 4/10.
So Con Air? Have you seen it? What did you think? And what is your favorite 90s action movie of all time? Also what Nick Cage movie should we talk about next? We are planning on doing plenty, so let us know and we’ll talk about it! And of course, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince