It’s commonly accepted among the most discerning cinephiles that 1997’s “Con Air” is the greatest film of all time. The prison plane hijacking action thrillserhas John Malkovich — who stars as primary antagonist Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom — for the acting chops. It features Nicolas Cage — as protagonist, inmate and former Army Ranger Cameron Poe — for the action. “Con Air” has also got Steve Buscemi — in the role of Garland Greene, aka “The Marietta Mangler” — for the comedy. And yes, we shamelessly cribbed this from the underrated Simon Pegg comedy “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” because you’ve probably never seen it.
In all seriousness, “Con Air” is a wonderfully fun action romp that’s both an exercise in managing expectations and a strain on the suspension of disbelief — evident by its lowly 56% critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes compared to its much better 75% audience score. It extended the idea that Cage could be in a satisfying action film like “The Rock” to the idea that he could be a legitimate action star, as he also demonstrated a full three weeks later in “Face/Off” alongside John Travolta. After serving his country as a distinguished Army Ranger, Cage’s Cameron Poe returns home from deployment to his pregnant wife, Tricia. Unfortunately, some drunk losers at the tavern she works at have eyes for the comely barmaid and they decide to have a go at her husband. Being the finely tuned fighting machine he is, Cameron accidentally kills Drunk Loser No. 1 and is sentenced to prison all for protecting his wife.