Con Air (review)

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Strong Enough for a Man… But Made for a Moron

Long story short: a plane with a bunch of nasty convicts on it crashes into Las Vegas.

Long story boring: Con Air (starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Colm Meaney). It’s only all these A-list and almost-A-list actors that makes this anything other than a made-for-USA Networks movie.
Con Air is a manly kind of movie, an orgy of vrooming motorcycles, sports cars, attack helicopters, guns, fighter planes, cool sunglasses, and cell phones. (I’m starting to think that the cell phone is the greatest thing to come along for the Manly Movie Man in ages, because now they can bark into a telephone in a manly way while screaming along in a babe-magnet sports car.) I like tech stuff — and me only a girl — but Con Air approaches pornography. It’s got fire engines and police cars, too — all it needs is an astronaut and a baseball player to be the perfect little-boy fantasy.

There’s also lots of music-video-type crap in the form of people running away from explosions in slow motion. Even better: Nicolas Cage gets to run in slo-mo with his long stringy hair flying behind him.

Nicolas Cage is Cameron Poe, a poor dumb macho jerk — and I mean that in the best possible way, I swear. He’s not really a criminal, just criminally stupid. When a couple of rednecks threaten his wife with rape and call him a coward, naturally Poe cannot let that pass. He could have gotten into his car and driven away, but instead he walks into the middle of these three guys and fights them, and kills one of them. Did I mention Poe’s an Army Ranger? As such, the judge pronounces Poe a deadly weapon (deadly but stupid) and sends him up the river. See? He’s not such a bad guy. What real man could let his wife’s virtue be threatened in such a way or let his own manliness be maligned?

The weird, macho-chivalrous attitude toward women? It gets worse.

Eight years later, Poe is paroled, and for some unexplained reason is sent home on a transport flight with a bunch of hardened, despicable lifers, including John Malkovich (as himself), being moved to another prison. The baddest of the bad guys naturally take over the plane with the greatest of ease, and as luck would have it, there is one female guard (Rachel Ticotin) on the plane. The movie dangles her in front of us, teasing us with suspense — will she or won’t she get raped by the serial rapist now on the loose on the plane? Poe has the chance to get off the plane at one point, but he refuses: as he says to the female guard, “What would my daughter think if I left you here to get dishonored?”

To get dishonored. Because any womanly woman would be ashamed to be raped — it probably meant she had no manly man around to protect her.

Con Air isn’t satisfied to make only its grown women characters victims. Steve Buscemi, as a Hannibal Lechter-type killer, gets to prey on a little girl with ponytails and a lisp — practically Cindy Brady herself. Even less-than-manly men aren’t spared: John Cusack’s U.S. marshal gets constantly teased by Colm Meaney’s DEA agent for not being trigger happy. (When Cusack won’t answer his cell phone, Meaney snarks, “He’s probably out saving the rainforest.”) As an extra added bonus, Con Air features possibly the most offensive portrayal of a homosexual man since I can’t remember when.

At the end of it all, when Poe is finally reunited with his wife and daughter, we’re meant to be touched by this charming family scene. All I could think was, If he hadn’t been such a macho jerk to start with, none of this would have happened.

Watch Con Air online using LOVEFiLM‘s streaming service.

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