"Make a move and the bunny gets it!"
It's a rare thing to encounter a film that seems fully aware of how ridiculous it is and therefore revel in it. Con Air is one such film, and I can't help but love it for it. The film has such an array of colorful characters played by such notable actors as Nicholas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, and Steve Buscemi.
The plot of the film focuses of recent parolee Cameron Poe (played by Nicholas Cage), who was jailed after accidentally killing a guy in a bar fight. He's hitching a ride home to meet up with his wife and daughter. He winds up on a prison plane full of some of the most dangerous criminals ever, including Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (played by John Malkovich), Diamond Dog (played by Ving Rhames) and Garland Greene (played by Steve Buscemi), a serial killer so notorious even most of the other inmates are afraid of him. Except Cyrus, of course, who tells Greene he loves "his work."
In no time, said criminals have managed to hijack the plane and it's up to Cameron, along with US Marshall Vince Larkin (played by John Cusack) to retake control of the plane. The film drives two towards two major showdowns, one at an largely abandoned airfield in the desert, where Cyrus and Co. intend to meet up with another plan to take them to a non-extradition treaty country to live out their days. The second is a spectacular emergency landing on the Las Vegas strip. Other moments of absurdity include a classic sports car accidentally becoming airborne before crashing through an Air Traffic Control tower and Malkovich threatening to shoot a plush bunny Cage got for his daughter as a gift (see above).
Con Air is another in a line of 90's action movies where it is clear the guy playing the villain, or guys in this case, are having the most fun. Malkovich in particular is clearly having a ball playing Cyrus, who at one point cheerfully points out his last Psych evaluation showed he was insane. While everyone has their moments, including Cage even though he's saddled with boy scout good guy role, it is clear Malkovich is the one that is going to steal the show, relishing the opportunity to play a character so over the top.
What I've always liked about this movie is it's tongue in cheek sensibility. It knows it's a ridiculous movie that you're not supposed to take seriously and revels in this fact. It includes such oddball throwaway scenes as all the convicts dancing on the plane to "Sweet Home Alabama", but goes further to have Buscemi's character point out the irony that a bunch of idiots are dancing on an airplane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash. What other movie would include something like this but one that exists in the hyper kinetic world of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, in one of his last true action movie extravaganzas before he permanently sailed off to PG-13 family film land. It's a shame though, because a part of me misses movies like these.