Case Number 12768


Touchstone Pictures // 1997 // 115 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 17th, 2008

The Charge


Opening Statement

In the heyday of Nicolas Cage action vehicles, no entry into the Cage canon of testosterone blockbusters was more ridiculous and overwrought than this one. Now it's ridiculous and overwrought in high-definition.

Facts of the Case

I want to tell you about a man named Cameron Poe (Cage, Ghost Rider). He's a simple fellow with a Southern drawl and lethal hand-to-hand combat training. A former Army Ranger, Poe's civilian life now is focused on reuniting with his hot wife (Monica Potter) and his soon-to-be-born offspring.

But before he can embrace his picturesque down-home family-friendly lifestyle, he gets into a fight with some scumbags, smokes them with his hardcore fisticuffs and lands in prison.

One thing leads to another and Poe finds himself on board an air transport featuring the worst of the worst American criminality has to offer. Headlining this bruising band of crooks, murderers, and rapists is Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (John Malkovich, Being John Malkovich), the most feared bad guy around. As is the game plan for Hollywood criminal antagonists, Cyrus is both insane and brilliant, orchestrating a daring takeover of the plane, forcing Poe to bust out his moves and save the day.

John Cusack is in this movie, too, playing a pointless role.

The Evidence

Con Air is a prime example of the Awesome-When-I-Watched-It-When-I-Was-A-Stupid-Idiot-But-Wow-Is-It-Impossible-To-Sit-Through-Now-Without-Dry-Heaving-Until-My-Pancreas-Ruptures phenomenon.

Seriously, I used to be all over this flick, riding high on the wave of Bruckheimer spectacles that preceded it. I loved The Rock (and actually still kind of dig it) and Con Air cashed in mightily on the good tidings I harbored for Cage and his participation in this burly ball-busting nonsense.

These days, the honeymoon is over. Con Air, with all of its ludicrous trappings, is, frankly, brutal. A migraine of a movie, unrelenting in its logical inconsistencies and scene chewing, this airborne turd-soaked-in-kerosene is over-the-top and shallow even by the Bruck's standards.

Simon West directs this thing with the subtlety of an exploding mastodon and relies on way too many hack moments to carry the film forward. The flying sports car, for example and that stalled armored truck at the end of fire truck chase that didn't make any sense and Cyrus's physics-defying death scene and the cop motorcycle that mysteriously blows apart like a firebomb, that "Sy-anara" line, Colm Meaney's dickheadedness, Steve Buscemi's lovable serial killer, the crash landing on the Vegas strip (with no fatalities!), Cyrus's extended monologue during said plane crash, interrupted of course by a rogue propeller blade, the white Corvette, the jackpot, and that stupid @#$%&$#%&@# bunny.

It's just too much and too stupid and I haven't even gotten to Nicolas Cage's deep-fried drawl that is self-parodying every time he opens his mouth. On the other hand, has this guy ever looked as ripped as he does here? Homeboy must have been freebasing HGH like a man possessed before the cameras rolled.

The good news for fans of the film is that its Blu debut is killer. The video and sound quality is off the charts and will almost certainly earn its credibility as a reference disc. The 2.35:1, 1080p widescreen picture is top-notch, registering the explosions and fireballs and mayhem and filthy tank tops with great clarity. As slick as the picture transfer is, the audio mix overshadows it. The uncompressed 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) surround will devour your system and rattle your living room. With so many jet fly-bys and gunfire and humongous flaming propane tank conflagrations -- in addition to the raucous score -- the sound has plenty to do and it does it with primo aggression.

The extras, unfortunately, are a major disappointment, recycled from the original disc. Two promotional featurettes -- "A View From Above" and "The Destruction of Las Vegas" -- are disposable. Also there's a jump-to-a-scene feature highlighting three of the loudest sequences.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Hey, Con Air, I know I was rough on you here, but you have to admit it: you suck. But at least you don't take yourself too seriously.

Closing Statement

Mind-numbing action and nightmarish drawls aside, Con Air on Blu-ray is an audio/visual stunner. The extras suck.

The Verdict

Movie: guilty. My ears and eyes: happy

Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 95
Audio: 100
Extras: 60
Acting: 65
Story: 70
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)

* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Movie Showcase
* Two Featurettes

* IMDb