Ric Roman Waugh, 2013
You can almost look at Con Air like two different movies. In the first half of the film, director Simon West achieves an impeccable and brilliant balance of humor, wit, action and nobility. Nicolas Cage plays Cameron Poe, an innocent man sent to jail for killing a man in self-defense. Now he is boarding a plane to go home, with a bunch of convicts who are going to another prison, some of whom are in for life. And everything would have been great, except that a serial killer (John Malcovich) decides to hijack the plane and use it to free him and his cronies from jail. Cameron has a chance to get off the plane but he refuses, hoping to bring down the hijackers.
Had the film continued at the same pace as in the first half, this could very well have been a **** film. In the middle, however, something must half clicked, the urge to blow everything up takes over, and Con Air becomes a different movie all together; an adrenaline infused, incoherent, non-sensical celebration of everything and anything explosive. And that’s just no fun.
Cage is awful, his accent all-too-phony. He couldn’t have done much anyway, considering he has a total of about three lines in the film, the highlight of which is “Why couldn’t you put the bunny back in the box?” Malkovich on the other hand is a terrific villain, bringing some life into the movie, and making the only rich, defined character in this film. John Buscemi has a decent role (although it’s almost like a cameo) as a notorious killer.
I don’t know how it happened, or what Simon West was thinking, but the first half of Con Air is brilliant and the second half is a non-stop climax, and a dimwitted one at that. Like I said, something must have clicked.
-- Eugene Novikov