Con Air

Con Air is a 1997 action movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring an all-star cast of badassery, an airplane, and Nicolas Cage's hair. While we can over-look the hair, the southern accent is uniquely ridiculous for a Coppola...

Not pictured: Ridiculous accent.

Just The Facts

  1. Con Air was nominated for two Oscar awards, being snubbed on both.
  2. Jerry Bruckheimer begins the movie as most action movies of the previous decade: Helicopters and valiant-speeches given by a US Army General.
  3. Steve Buscemi manages to actually be terrifying, despite (or because of) his teeth.



Con Air begins with Cameron Poe (Cage), a US Army Ranger coming home to his young and pregnant wife. Upon bringing her out of the bar where she works he is assaulted by three rather oddly-aggressive gentlemen, Poe manages to kill one with his bare hands. He is subsequently convicted of man slaughter, because self-defense doesn't count if you actually get trained to defend yourself1. This is why we here at Cracked prefer self-defense methods that require less training.

Pictured: Self Defense.

Pictured: Self Defense.

After serving 8 years (thanks for having a Ranger's back, America) he is paroled. The last step home is a quick plane ride on The Jailbird, a plane built uniquely to transport prisoners. Did we mention it happened to be the day the Justice Department decided to transport the country's worst criminals to a 'mega-security-prison' (actual quote)?

Oh, and instead of doing the smart thing (guarded convoy and a bus?) they're kind of in a hurry, and decide to fly them all on the same fucking plane.

Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (John Malkovich) is a mad psychopath with a plan up his sleeve. He is in league with Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones (Ving Rhames), a black-supremacist and fellow author. He is said to have bombed an NRA meeting, after which he wrote a book in prison entitled "Reflections in a Diamond's Eye".

Hokey maybe, but just imagine Ving Rhames actually saying that out loud. We want to read that book.

Knowing he and others are about to be transported, Cyrus decides to strike fear and terror into the on-flight guards using something we're all familiar with as frightful and terrifying:

Fear. Terror.

Fear. Terror.

Dave Chappelle plays the role of Joe 'Pinball' Parker: An arsonistic non-crackhead and comedic relief in an otherwise mesmerizing group of insane criminals. His role in the scheme is simple: Swallow a match and some gasoline, gag it back out without yakking the rest of his stomach contents, and light the man sitting next to him on fire.

Once this diversion is made, a dizzying array of highly improbable steps is taken by prison guards under the 'dude on fire in an airplane' etiquette, which leads to the role reversal of the guards and prisoners.

Our long-haired hero Cameron Poe keeps his identity a secret and manages to endear himself to Cyrus using only a bad southern accent. Secretly of course, he plans on doing all that a US Ranger would do to get to his wife and child, save his diabetic 'only-other-good-guy' friend Mike 'Baby-O' O'Dell, and bring the criminals to justice.

This of course is enunciated by a quote from later in the film, "I'm go' save the fuckin' day", easily ranking as Nicolas Cage's best quote, ever.

Poe's plan involves taking the tape-recorder being held by the dead-on-board undercover DEA agent and placing it on the body of a hostage guard being transfered off the plane. We mentioned there was an undercover DEA agent earlier right? No? Damn.

The tape-recorder is discovered by the authorities and does work to alert the authorities of the deception, however only too late. Happily enough Vince Larkin (John Cusack) is finding out about the ruse at the same time while inspecting Cyrus's old cell.

This brings us to the Sixty Minute Mark: Upon finding a coded message using the cut-out eyes of Jesus and the Apostles from The Last Supper (Bruckheimer that is cheap or genius, either way it's still ridiculous), Larkin instructs the two guards with him not to touch anything in the cell, with a look on his face that can only be called terrified fear.

Fear. Terror.

God dammit Dave.

A bumbling guard immediately sits down, literally right the fuck away, and proceeds to pick up a small lunch box, labeled 'Do Not Open', and opens it. We go from "don't touch anything", to this:

to this2:

And then the fact that a maximum-security inmate on death row managed to build a napalm bomb in his locked-down cell is casually blown over to continue the story of Nic Cage's hair.

The plane lands as scheduled at Carson City during a convenient dust storm for the con. After dropping the guards and picking up a few new psychopaths, we are introduced to Garland 'The Marietta Mangler' Greene, played by Steve Buscemi. By introduced we mean rolled-up-in-a-prison-issue-bear-muzzle. Once safely on board, he stays surprisingly calm throughout the entire movie...excepting the guard he viciously kills after being left alone with him for approximately 30 seconds.

Meanwhile at Carson City, Pinball (Chappelle) is leaving the plane's transponder in a tourist-guide's plane while being left at the air-field. Upon noticing he's being left to fend for himself, he manages to run down the plane and climb up on the landing gear where he is later used as a living text message addressed to Agent Larkin. Interestingly, he passes several sky-scrapers on his way down, landing in Fresno, California (where there are no skyscrapers).

Pictured: Fresno, CA, Man Having Best-Day-Ever at Work.

After receiving the text message and some carefully done finger-jabbing on a map, Larkin deduces that the plane is headed to Lerner airfield and not taking a summer flight through the grand canyon (which is where the transponder is). Not being able to get a ride in an aircraft, Larkin borrows the resident-dickhead's Corvette and flies down desert roads to single-handedly attempt to take the plane back.

Because the owner is a dickhead, the car doesn't make it.

Airfield we discover, means apocalyptic wasteland in the middle of a fucking desert. We were going to use the more traditional joke for 'apocalyptic wasteland' (the S&M dude from Road Warrior), however a Google Images search for the picture 'Road Warrior thong' produced this and we went with it:

Bring it 2012. BRING IT.

... With us again? We were explaining Con-Air and got off topic for a moment (or ten). Let's continue...

At this apocalypse-airfield we cover a lot of ground, so let's be brief:

Poe (Cage) and Larkin (Cusack) meet while Poe is attempting to find insulin for Baby-O, as he has gone into diabetic shock. After kicking a few Columbian drug-lords asses and being quite rude to the man whom he summoned by name via text message (body falling from a plane), he discovers Cyrus has been conniving the whole time to leave on a second jet which was stowed away by another inmate Francisco Cindino (left without a cool nickname in the movie because fuck the Judas character). Unfortunately, 'Judas' Cindino had plans to say 'Fuck You Cyrus', which ends up with Cyrus saying 'Fuck you Cindino' to the tune of a gas-station explosion. Also, props for somehow mixing 'drug dealers' (Latinos, apparently) into the plot.

All the while Garland Greene (Buscemi) is producing one of the most ass-clenching cliff hangers of cinematic history. He wanders off to a nearby trailer park with an apparent population of one (apparently convicts don't care much what a mass-murderer does with his spare time): A seven year old. Here's a sample of the scene:

Little Girl: "Are you sick?"

Greene: "Why do you ask?"

Little Girl: "You look sick."

Greene: "I am sick.."

Little Girl: "Why don't you take medicine?"

Greene: "They don't make medicine for my kind of sick."

They then proceed to sing "Hes Got the Whole World in His Hands". Let's just say this: At one point in the film Greene brags he once 'wore [a woman's] head as a hat for three weeks'... and we're left to wonder due to various cut-aways, what did he do to that poor little girl?? So we're taking the same approach. We'll tell you later.

And thus we come to the ambush. The convicts have cleverly set up a path in which the entire convoy of 'alert' police will ride through. Obviously being a typical Bruckheimer flick, every type of grenade launcher and gas tank is at hand to make it one fuck-uv-an-ambush. The scenes involving and following can be described through graphic representation:

Follow from left to right, top to bottom: each explosion is an actual explosion in the movie for the next 7 minutes.

This is all happening as Cage and his hair jump through the flames of not-so-close gas explosions in an effort to stall the plane from leaving while finding a syringe for Baby-O's insulin, who has since gone into diabetic shock.

Poe stumbles upon finding Johnny Johnny '23' Baca (Danny Trejo) attempting to rape a female guard, because ya know... that's what Johnny does. '23' represents the counts of rape he was convicted of (the linked video clearly disproves that). At one point in the movie he brags, "If they knew the truth it'd be Johnny 6003". This type of persona doesn't sit well with many US Rangers and Poe, being one of those Rangers, proceeds to slam Johnny's head into a cage. Repeatedly. Accentuating every cage-slam with a word. "You! Don't! Treat! Women! Like! That!"

Baby-O Mike finally gets his insulin, saving Mykelti Williamson from having to be 'the black best friend who's dying in the movie' again.

This guy's career has never been the same.

The plane takes off in a hail of gunfire with Agent Malloy's Corvette tied to the rear. This is solved simply by crashing the damn car mid-flight into a radio tower, destroying an innocent (douche) man's life and dreams on wheels. Oh and as the plane takes off, we find out that poor little girl from earlier is safe and sound, with Garland Greene back on the plane (Ken doll creepily in hand, ostensibly cute bunnies in the vicinity).

It's near this point, mid-party, that Cyrus deduces that there is a traitor among them. Evidence is shown that it must be Poe, however Baby-O stands up and claims it was him. Cyrus, being the dick he is, shoots him immediately. Helicopters appear at the plane's rear, and Cyrus proceeds to unload clip after clip to stall them. Fun fact: a 9mm won't do shit to an Apache when you're thinking about real-world physics.

Poe, comforting Baby-O's worries that God doesn't exist (as he's dying...again), spews out another great one-liner: "I'm go' show you God does exist."

"Don't let me be pigeon-holed Nic!"

And quite appropriately to that line, he proceeds to walk from the back of the plane to the cockpit knocking out anything in his way, taking a bullet to the arm (without flinching), and bitch-slapping the resident tranny of the group,4 Ramon 'Sally-Can't Dance' Martinez.

Because Bruckheimer says you know you don't punch women... but you can slap a tranny.

Cameron takes over the plane and just as suddenly, helicopters begin a missle-to-Jailbird standoff, Poe all the while desperately attempting to stop the plane from being shot down. After some tense music and about 15 seconds, Agent Malloy exhibits the only non-douchebag act of his role in the film and holds-fire. This doesn't stop the fact that the plane is already heavily damaged, running out of fuel, and Poe has ordered the inmate pilot 'Swamp Thing' (M.C. Gainey, no relation to the Hammers) to land the plane.

Being that there aren't exactly runways just being built willy-nilly across the desert, he begins to land the plane to the tune of Garland Greene's rendition of 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands'.

On the fucking Las-Vegas Strip.

"Fuck it, it's called the strip, that works for me." - M.C. Gainey

This is all going down while Cyrus and Poe are in a standoff on a crashing plane. Ever tried to stand up and walk during an ascent or descent of a plane?

Fortunately for Poe, his gun-wielding opponent is stopped by one of the fucking propellers dis-engaging from the plane, and slicing through the plane directly between the two of them. The look on their face is appropriately the same as ours: complete disbelief and confusion at why Bruckheimer would try to make such a coincidence actually seam feasible.

The plane collides into a casino, effectively killing most of the inmates left. Sally 'Can't Dance' (the tranny) survives and is apprehended. Diamond-Dog, Cyrus, and Swamp-Thing however, manage to commandeer a fire-truck amongst the confusion (apparently Vegas has A: No traffic, and B: The fastest emergency response, ever.) Not being the type to easily let things go, Agent Larkin and Poe steal two police motorcycles and take pursuit.

In a highly-unlikely chain of near-misses and blaring horns, of course the truck is stopped leaving all three inmates dead (and only two no-named police officers mildly injured via motor-cycle crash). Although Cyrus' death must take the cake for unbelievable coincidences: After being strapped to the ladder of the fire-truck, he is smashed through a sky-way, thrown onto a conveyor belt, and has his head smashed in a hydraulic-press. Ostensibly because junk-yards with active robot presses at all hours of the night exist just yards from the Las Vegas Strip.

Still though...Pretty cool.

What follows is the most awkward first-meeting of a father and daughter ever. A bloody, recently-shot, awkwardly-long-haired man wearing prison-issues hands a stuffed bunny (equally bloody, recently-shot, and not-so-awkwardly long haired, sans-prison garb) to his daughter, who's face can only be described as abject terror.

Fear. Terror.

Stop it Dave.

The story is pretty standard fare. Good prevails, evil misses out.

Or presumed reformed: Garland Greene is later seen alive and well at a craps game, sippin' on a Mai Tai. That creepy son-of-a-bitch is still out there.

1. Not true, technically. He would have been acquitted in a military court, if ever tried in the first place.

2. This has been happening at the Cracked offices all too often. We suspect this man.

3. Nothing compared to Cyrus' boast, "I've killed more men than cancer."

4. This too has been happening all too often at the Cracked offices. All of us take credit.

If you enjoyed this topic, tell the guy who wrote it. He might write more.