EYEWITNESS



Television, Movie and Play Reviews

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

CON AIR

Starring: Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Colm Meaney, Mykelti Williamson, Rachel Ticotin, Monica Potter.

Directed by: Simon West
Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer (producer of "The Rock" and "Crimson Tide")
Rating: "R" (strong violence and language)

By no stretch of the imagination, is this a mystery. It's a roller-coaster ride of an action- adventure thriller. Still, it does have convicts and cops at odds with each other. And since there aren't any mystery movies out there to review, we went to "Con Air."

Con Air is the air transport division fo the U.S. Marshals Service. Each year they transport criminals across the country for court appearances, prison transfers, and medical emergencies.

In this case, they are also giving Cameron Poe (Nicholas Cage) a ride home. He is about to be paroled from prison after serving an 8 year sentence for killing a man who had harassed his pregnant wife.

Also on board are the scum of the prison population from various prisons who are being taken to a new maximum security facility. The cons have other ideas and manage to take over the plane and embark on their own flight plan.

Back on the ground, U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin (John Cusack) gives chase while trying to keep his superiors from just shooting the plane out of the sky. Larkin recognizes that Poe may be an ally. The other officials don't care. They just want the plane and its passengers terminated.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. However, it is not as well written or as well filmed as "The Rock." Since the passenger list is comprised of such "low life scum" as the dregs of our prison system could provide, it is difficult to develop much sympathy, if any, for the convicts. Although most of the actors portraying the convicts do an adequate (and in the case of Malkovich and Steve Buscemi, an eerie) job of bringing their characters to life, it is still lacking that tension that would have been present had there been someone to root for...other than Poe.

Most of the prison guards are presented in such a stereotypical fashion that there are no heroes to root for amongst them. The U.S. Marshals, except for Larkin, aren't worth much pity either. With Larkin on the ground, we can hope he catches the plane, but with only Poe on board to foil the dastardly criminals, we aren't left with much to do except wait for him to do something.

The "never leave a man behind" creed of the Army Rangers (Poe is a retired U.S. Army Ranger) is understandable enough to the audience, it just doesn't play as well as it might have if the script had been tightened a little. The man Poe refuses to leave behind is the least developed of all the convicts and didn't generate much sympathy from me.

Still all complaints aside, there are some very funny moments in the film and some very hardcore action scenes. I've already seen the film three times and will probably go back again.


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