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Con Air (1997)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  6 June 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 213,955 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 333 user | 138 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

Newly paroled ex-con and former US Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bedlam
Casey Poe
Vince Larkin


Cameron Poe, a highly decorated United States Army Ranger, came home to Alabama to his wife, Tricia, only to run into a few drunken regulars where Tricia works. Cameron unknowingly kills one of the drunks and is sent to a federal penitentiary for involuntary manslaughter for seven years. Cameron becomes eligible for parole and can now go home to his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, Cameron has to share a prison airplane with some of the country's most dangerous criminals, who took control of the plane and are now planning to escape the country. Cameron has to find a way to stop them while playing along. Meanwhile, United States Marshal Vincent Larkin is trying to help Cameron get free and stop the criminals, including Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom. Written by John Wiggins

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One wrong flight can ruin your whole day See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 June 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Air bagnards  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,131,738 (USA) (6 June 1997)


$101,087,161 (USA) (3 October 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (extended)

Sound Mix:

| | (8 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Colm Meaney's key chain has a Star Trek Communicator ornament on it, a reference to his role as Chief Miles O'Brien on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). See more »


When Malloy plants the gun on the DEA agent he places the gun in the sock of his left leg, however when the DEA agent reveals himself on the "conair" plane, he draws the gun from the sock of his right foot. But there's a significant time gap between when Sims gets on the plane and when Pinball releases him from his cuffs to reach for the gun, and during the chaos that ensued on the plane he might have switched the gun to his right to make it more easily accessible, See more »


[first lines]
Officer at Leaving Ceremony: Army Rangers have a proud history. Since the 1700s, Rangers have led the way in every major confrontation in which the United States has been involved. You men are a credit to that fine heritage, and I'm sorry to see you go. But you've served your country well, and you've displayed the ability to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete its mission, never leaving behind a fallen comrade no matter what the odds or the enemy. I thank you. America thanks you. And I wish you luck ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In Memory of PHIL SWARTZ See more »


Referenced in Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) See more »


Carolina In The Morning
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Good Movie That Got Bogged Down With Greed
22 May 2001 | by (Oldwick, NJ) – See all my reviews

`Con Air' more or less defines the term `popcorn movie' – it's an action film designed strictly to entertain. The film's emphasis is on flash, flair, and adrenaline, with a smattering of humor and story spread throughout for good measure. Not exactly the most lofty of goals, but the desire to entertain is quite sincere, and `Con Air' does largely succeed in the entertainment department.

Where `Con Air' falls apart, however, is the grandiose, grandstanding way in which it tells its story. Subtlety is a word that is impossible to use in describing this film. `Con Air' is a firm believer in the concept that more must be better – ten explosions must be better than one; three psychotic villains must be better than two; and so on. The `bigger is better' approach never truly turns the film into an utter mess, but it does bog it down to a certain extent – what could've been a fantastic action movie becomes, well, just better than average. A leaner and meaner `Con Air' could've been a classic.

`Con Air' is the story of good-guy Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage), an Army Ranger unjustly tossed in prison for eight long years for protecting his family from a drunken, knife-wielding maniac. Finally paroled, Poe is placed on a converted troop transport plane that will take him home to his family. However, also on board the plane is a roster of psychotic criminals vaguely reminiscent of the Legion of Doom from the old `Superfriends' cartoon. There's Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich), an articulate, thoughtful madman with a penchant for automatic weapons; Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames), a black militant and Cyrus' trusted lieutenant (or so Cyrus thinks, at any rate); Johnny 23 (Danny Trejo), a serial rapist; Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi), a serial killer in the Hannibal Lecter vein who is treated as the resident prison celebrity; and a good half-dozen other colorful characters to flesh out this flying rogues' gallery of nightmare criminals. Under Cyrus' direction, the criminals take control of the plane, and it's up to the beleaguered Poe to save the day, with some help from good-guy U.S. Marshal Larkin (John Cusack) on the ground, who's seemingly the only person in U.S. law enforcement capable of deciphering Poe's brief and cryptic messages to the authorities.

The film moves along at a brisk pace, cheerfully glossing over its own improbabilities. `Con Air' is definitely the kind of film that only works if you don't stop to think about it, and director Simon West keeps things going quick enough to keep most of the ludicrous plot holes mercifully brief. He manages to cut from one story arc to another with a certain amount of skill, keeping each arc from completely snowballing into something unmanageable. However, the juggling act wears thin by the end of the movie – there's simply too much to try to balance. It's not particularly Simon West's fault (although he does have an annoying penchant for overusing the slow-motion explosion filmed from five different angles, a lá `The A-Team'), but more a by-product of the script. The second half of the film has forced moments, where the only purpose of the action scenes seems to be to completely outdo the action scenes in the first half. These scenes are undeniably cool looking, but they're filler, and filler can only take a movie so far. A good third of the film – story, action scenes, you name it – could've easily been excised from the film, and not only would it never be missed, `Con Air' would actually be vastly improved.

Even the characters, while entertaining, wind up just overwhelming the film. The villain Diamond Dog, as played by Ving Rhames, is charismatic, menacing, and a truly inspired movie bad guy . . . and he's also completely gratuitous. As Cyrus the Virus, John Malkovich is also charismatic, menacing, and a truly inspired movie bad guy . . . just like Diamond Dog. The movie simply doesn't have room for both villains (and it definitely doesn't have room for the Lecter-inspired Garland Green, who Steve Buscemi turns into an odd sort of comic relief, but otherwise serves no purpose in the film.) ONE villain would've been plenty. Ditto the heroes: Cage is good, Cusack is good, but c'mon, pick ONE. Like the rest of the film, the characters become too much, and wind up becoming pure overkill.

In many ways, `Con Air' looks like the results of a Hollywood brainstorming meeting gone haywire, where a thousand ideas are slapped down onto a notepad. . . but these ideas don't necessarily mesh well together. Most of the ideas in `Con Air' are surprisingly decent, there's just too many of them. (How many times have you heard that about an action movie?)

Overall, `Con Air' is okay, and if you're in the mood for fun, mindless action, it gets the job done. Personally, I'd recommend watching `The Rock' instead –it's by far the best of the recent spate of Bruckheimer action flicks – but `Con Air', for all its excesses, has its own good moments, too. Grade: B-

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Cyrus's Hatred of Rapists anthony-nasti
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