Volume 2, Number 6 -- June, 1997

Buy a Damned T-Shirt!

You Gotta See This Con Air
By Tony Han
Strangely, when people think about formulas, they're okay with it in terms of medicine but they balk when it comes to movies. "A formulated movie? Eeeewww!…" What in God's name (sorry God, but you're pop culture fodder) is wrong with a formula? If you get it right, you've done well. Let's talk in terms of medicine: When you go to a doctor, do you want him to give you a formula or an experiment? I hope this isn't a tough call. Now, let's talk movies. A formulated movie isn't necessarily bad as long as it's done correctly. Sure, I don't think it'll make the Movies' Hall of Fame (Oscar doesn't like formulas), but as long as you get your bucks' worth, who cares how far 'it' goes? Con Air is definitely a movie that has to be judged by this criteria. Sure, we've seen way too many hijack movies, but Bruckheimer and friends did a good job with this one and that's all that matters.
STATE TO BE IN WHILE WONDERING WHY JOHN CUSACK IS IN AN ACTION FILM: Buzzed, but just enough. Con Air is an action movie just to be enjoyed. There's nothing worth thinking about in it at all. The movie is about the hijacking of a plane full of convicts…by the convicts (well, who else would want a plane full of psychotics anyway). As the felons attempt to run for Oz via the cloud -bricked road, the good convict feels his moral and chivalrous duty to attempt to foil their plot. Our knight in prison garbs is played by none other than Nicholas Cage who comes to us from last year's summer blockbuster, The Rock. His tag team partner on the ground is John Cusack. In the other corner, we have John Malkovich leading a vicious gang of cutthroats with highlights such as Ving Rhames and Steve Buscemi towards the border.
There's not much to mention about the plot or the dialogue; it's a fairly standard action movie. We have the standard damsel in distress, the lone good guy, the far too sinister, but faulted ultimate-bad guy. The dialogue is wrought with your standard one-liners, though there are some good ones. Regarding one-liners though, it's refreshing to see them not come from Van Damme or Schwarzenegger, but a non (or new comer) actioneer. It's said that Cage was given a lot of creative license to create his character, Cameron Poe. The character Poe has a Southern accent and has some of the funniest lines, actually written by Cage himself. I'd mention the "bunny in the box" scene which Cage put together, but you just have to see the movie to get why it's funny anyway. And, we have out many, many explosions and bullets, capped off with a landing of the plane on the Las Vegas Strip. Viva Las Vegas.
Much of this movie, which will distinguish it from lesser action movies, is the principle actors. Cage is definitely a pleasant addition to the standard action heroes currently on the market, quirky and personable. John Malkovich is improving more and more as The Ultimate Bad Guy with his patented cold, psychotic, but intelligent persona. Buscemi plays an unbelievably evil serial killer, but who is also intelligent and kind, thus deserves to live in this movie. Definitely, the freshest face to the action venue is John Cusack. Having recent watched Grosse Point Blank (excellent movie), Cusack is proving to be as entertaining in the Nineties, as he was in the Eighties. Interestingly, he's still John Cusack, mildly naïve and very witty. Now, he's shooting at people, chasing fire engines on a motorcycle, and flying around in helicopters, but he's still 'John Cusack'.
This summer promises fairly interesting action films: Men In Black being the most anticipated, Starship Trooper jockeying to be the most serious science fiction of the summer, Batman and Little-Boy-Sidekick-in-Rubber, and (my personal anticipation) Face-Off starting Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. Con Air makes for a good lead in to these action films, not wildly, badly made, nor mild enough to put you to sleep. Expect not too much from these endeavors; they are here only to entertain. And under that criteria, Con Air should take at least three stars, if not four.

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