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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem utilizing repetition, so I applied this technique and maybe a little symbolism to a ‘90s action movie. Because why not?)


Upon the air, the vessel soared
To transport evil in its bowels.
Upon the air, the mongrel horde
Attacked where predator never prowls.

Upon the air, they broke their bonds,
And took control upon the air,
Upon the air where hawk absconds
With spoils telling all beware.

Upon the air, the vessel soared
With wickedness its newest norm.
The few good people left on board
Were but a candle in the storm.

Upon the air, some good endured,
And at the crash of evil’s lair,
Whose survival was assured?
‘Twas not the princedom of the air.

MPAA rating: R

Few films sum themselves up as explicitly as Con Air, when Nicolas Cage’s soon-to-be-freed convict Cameron Poe states, “They somehow managed to get every creep and freak in the universe onto this one plane. And then somehow managed to let them take it over. And then somehow managed to stick us right smack in the middle.” That about sums it up. A classic ‘90s action movie based on the Die Hard formula of bad guys taking over the “fill-in-the-blank,” Con Air is a thoroughly enjoyable actioner that revels in its own testosterone.

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Imprisoned for accidental manslaughter and on his way to release after serving his sentence, Cameron Poe is simply on the wrong plane at the wrong time when Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and all manner of murderous convicts seize their air transport to escape. Being the upright guy with a phony Southern accent that he is, he plays along and stays to help the few decent people on board (Mykelti Williamson, Rachel Ticotin) while dealing with all the nutcases that have taken over the airborne asylum. The sheer number of recognizable faces is impressive by itself; aside from Cage and Malkovich, there are Ving Rhames, Dave Chappelle, and Danny Trejo as criminals; John Cusack and Star Trek’s Colm Meaney as bickering lawmen trying to ground the flight; M.C. Gainey as the convicts’ pilot (warranting a Lost alert for playing Mr. Smiley in my favorite show); and Steve Buscemi, who channels his inner psychopath as the flight’s own Hannibal Lecter wannabe.

Con Air isn’t anything revolutionary or high-minded; it’s simply a fun action movie, lone good guy against multiple bad guys, and it certainly excels in the action department. The explosions and mayhem are spectacular, if not entirely realistic, and you know you’re watching a ‘90s boom-fest when Nicolas Cage is running in slow motion from a blazing inferno. The various baddies provide different flavors of vileness to despise, and it’s a strange irony that the one psycho who seems like the worst actually doesn’t do anything bad onscreen and is thusly not punished.

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I’ve often seen Con Air considered a guilty pleasure, equally ripe for entertainment or mockery (note John Cusack’s disappearing/reappearing pimple over a couple scenes), but what’s there to feel guilty about enjoying, aside from the rampant violence and language that comes with the genre? (I prefer the cut version myself.) On a side note, has anyone else noticed that Cameron Poe’s name might have inspired the name of Oscar Isaac’s character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Poe Dameron? Food for thought…. All in all, Con Air is first-rate punch-and-bullet action with a hero worth rooting for and plenty of villains worth hating.

Best line: (Buscemi’s Garland Greene, as the cons celebrate to “Sweet Home Alabama”) “Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.”


Rank: List-Worthy


2017 S.G. Liput
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