On Con Air (1997)

Book coverAlright, kids, I’m a bit late to this party. This film came out when I was twenty-five years old. I’d just met with a beautiful girl who would become my beautiful wife, but I also briefly reunited with a lovely young lady who would not. I was busy, you know. What’s that, gentle reader? The film came out the same year as The Man Who Knew Too Little, a Bill Murray film I saw in the cinemas with that woman I would claim (or would claim me). So this film came out in my cinema-heavy years, but I did not see it in the cinema or anywhere else for twenty-five years. Like Friday, a still from this film has become a meme–the one where Nicholas Cage steps off the bus and revels in what he thinks is his freedom (it’s early in the film). So that is probably why I picked it up relatively recently and why I watched it.

The plot: An Army Ranger leaves the service, but comes home and meets his pregnant wife at a bar (what, not the airport?). A he is a former hothead, when some bar denizens stalk the wife, he, Nicholas Cage, kills one of them in a fight and is sentenced to Federal prison (wut?) He is paroled after many years, but he’s put on a plane with really bad guys headed to a new Supermax prison. One of them is John Malkovich, which is always a bad sign. The bad guys take over the plane as part of a plot to free a member of a drug cartel (a la Die Hard 2), and although he has a chance to go free, Cage stays on board to try to help his diabetic cell mate find a hypodermic needle to deliver a needed dose of insulin before he goes into shock. Action set pieces and a plane crash and pursuit trash the Las Vegas strip. A bit over the top, but it was designed to be a blockbuster.

At the end of the day, I will probably confuse this film less with The Rock than I might have previously. The Rock was Nicholas Cage’s action blockbuster from the year before.

Facebook ads tell me that this is one of the most 90s films ever made. I think it’s not quite so tied to its decade, but its cast features a list of people whom you’d recognize:

  • Nicholas Cage
  • John Cusack
  • John Malkovich
  • Dave Chapelle
  • Danny Trejo
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Colm Meany
  • Ving Rhames
  • M.C. Gainey
  • Rachel Ticotin

So an all-star cast.

And did we mention Rachel Ticotin?

Rachel Ticotin fits into the trinity of pretty Hispanic actresses from the 1980s/1990s with Elizabeth Peña and Maria Conchita Alonso. Whereas Alonso was in The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Ticotin was in Total Recall.



She has had a busy career on television and on film; I’ve seen her in this as well as Fort Apache: The Bronx, Falling Down, and Total Recall. Always a pleasure to watch.

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