It may seem insufferably stupid and have a God-awfully mushy ending but don’t be mistaken, Con Air hides a witty and self-mocking side that distinguishes it from the regular crop of testosterone-fuelled action flicks.
Director Simon West and his talented cast clearly understand the absurdity of the material that they are working with and tackle the film with a refreshingly satirical approach, filling it with quotable lines (“Put the Bunny back in the Box”), memorably crazy characters and even crazier scenarios.
Nicolas Cage, at a time when he was pickier with the roles he chose, is largely in auto-pilot mode as the goodie whilst John Malkovich as baddie ‘Cyrus the Virus’ clearly enjoys himself immensely with the one-liners afforded to him. However it is the hysterically creepy Steve Buscemi who steals the show and ensures that you’ll be singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” for days afterwards.
As with any film telling the tale of a group of incarcerated lunatics who plan to escape the US aboard a hijacked aircraft, you’ll have to take it with a pinch of salt. But for those prepared to do so you’ll also be rewarded with the gloriously over-the-top action scenes which contain a plethora of destruction, death and idiots being thrown out of an aeroplane which makes for one satisfyingly exhilarating experience.
Con Air (1997), directed by Simon West, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by Walt Disney Studios, Certificate 18.