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Con Air
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Synopsis for
Con Air (1997) More at IMDbPro »

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Cameron Poe (Nicholas Cage), a honorably discharged United States Army Ranger, is found guilty of manslaughter in the death of an innocent but drunk bar customer while trying to defend his pregnant wife Tricia (Monica Potter) from him, and sentenced to seven to ten years by a bias judge. During his time in prison, he communicates with his wife and daughter while taking time to better himself.

Eight years later, Poe is released on parole, and is scheduled to be flown back to his hometown in Alabama on the same day as his daughter Casey's seventh birthday. Poe is arranged transport on the "Jailbird", a C-123 airplane, along with a fellow prisoner Mike "Baby-O" O'Dell (Mykelti Williamson) and several other prisoners destined for a new Supermax prison, including William "Billy Bedlam" Bedford (Nick Chinlund), Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones (Ving Rhames), and Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (John Malkovich). The prisoner transfer is overseen by U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack); however, he is approached by DEA agent Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney), who asks to put undercover agent Willie Sims (Jos Ziga) on board the plane to get more information out of drug lord Francisco Cindino before he is incarcerated during the flight. Larkin acquiesces but insists the agent go aboard unarmed, but Malloy is able to sneak Sims a gun during the boarding pat-down.

Shortly after the flight takes off, Jones and Grissom are able to free themselves with the help of a distraction by another prisoner, Pinball Parker (Dave Chappelle) faking a siezure, and the prisoners quickly subdue the guards and take control of the cockpit to prevent the pilot from reporting in. In the ensuing chaos, Sims attempts to threaten Grissom, but Poe, recognizing that Sims is at a disadvantage, attempts to talk the agent out of it; Sims ignores the advice and is killed.

As Grissom organizes the other prisoners to prepare for a scheduled landing in Carson City in order to meet the required prisoner transfer numbers, Poe initially decides to get off hoping to expose the takeover but reconsiders when he discovers they are taping the mouths shut of all the transferees who are getting off and the pilot is transferred off in his place. His main reason for staying is that O'Dell is a diabetic and the injection needles for his insulin were damaged in the takeover and are unusable so he needs to find a way to help him. Also a serial rapist Johnny 23 (Danny Trejo) is after the only female guard on the plane Sally Bishop despite that Cyrus has threatened to kill Johnny if he attempts to rape her. Poe spots a recording device on Sims' body; he transfers it to one the guards that are being substituted for dead prisoners hoping it would attract the attention of the guards on the prison bus.

Upon landing to refuel and pick up more prisoners to take them to freedom, Grissom insures the prison transfer goes smoothly. Among the new prisoners boarding are drug lord Francisco Cindino (Jesse Borrego) who masterminded the prisoners escape (and who Sims was sent to interrogate), transvestite serial killer Ramon 'Sally Can't Dance' Martinez (Renoly Santiago), their new pilot, "Swamp Thing" Williams (M. C. Gainey) and cannibal serial killer Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) known as "The Marietta Mangler". Grissom instructs Pinball to hide the plane's transponder, and despite Poe's efforts, the plane leaves Carson City without problems even though the guards on the prison bus discover the true identity of the prisoners on the bus and backup arrives too late. Around that time Larkin discovers the plans for the plane's takeover in Grissom's old cell and narrowly avoids getting killed on his way out when one of the guards disregards his advice and opens an object that has a bomb hidden inside it.

After Larkin and Malloy discover what happened, Larkin having heard about Poe from one of their guards Falzon suspects Poe is on their side. Malloy, against Larkin's advice, immediately takes off to follow the plane's transponder, which unknown to him was snuck aboard a sightseeing plane. Poe, along with Jones, go into the hull to determine the cause of the plane's slow speed and find that Parker's body is lodged into the landing wheel compartment, having missed the plane taking off. Poe takes the opportunity to write a message on Parker's shirt to Larkin and pushes the body out of the plane, where it lands in the middle of traffic in Fresno California.

Larkin has a meeting with Trisha and Casey to determine why Poe chose to stay on the plane, when a call comes in from Fresno police and Larkin is quickly made aware of the message. Larkin recognizes that the prisoners' plane is headed in the opposite direction to the disused Lerner Airfield. Unable to convince Malloy of this information over the radio, he borrows Malloy's sportscar to make it to the field before the plane can land, calling in the National Guard and other forces to help secure the airfield.

Aboard the plane, Poe attempts to keep his identity secret, killing Bedford when he discovers Poe's parole letter in the personal belongings in the hull. Poe learns from Grissom that Cindino is promising that once they land at Lerner, another plane will be waiting for them to help them gain asylum in "non-extradition territory".

The plane lands at the airfield, running aground, but no plane seems to be waiting for them; while the rest of the prisoners are forced by Grissom to dig out the plane, Poe explores the field to try to find an injection needle for O'Dell's insulin whom is going into a diabetic shock from withdrawal of his medication. Larkin, also on the field, happens upon the plane that Cindino promised, finding that Cindino has double-crossed Grissom and trying to flee on his own and helps rescue Poe from Cindino's henchmen who are there waiting for their boss. Larkin and Poe briefly meet and discuss the situation before Poe leaves to find an injection needle. Cindino slips away from the other prisoners to board his plane and has his pilot take off. Larkin is able to disable the plane, and the crash alerts Grissom, who shoots the fuel leaking from Cindino's plane, starting a fire and burning Cindino alive.

The prisoners observe that armed forces are advancing on the field, and upon Cyrus discovering the small arsenal hidden in the bottom of the plane (and Bedford's body), they set up an ambush trap for the forces. Larkin goes off to help stop the troops from being massacred by reactivating an old unused plow and using it to create a makeshift bulletproof shield, while Poe managed to find an injection needle and returns to the plane to give O'Dell his insulin and manages to stop Johnny from raping Bishop. As the troops overrun the trap, Grissom and the remaining prisoners return to the plane and take off, despite damage to the plane and before Poe could escape with O'Dell and Bishop.

Grissom soon discovers Poe's true identity after Jones found Poe's parole letter. After shooting O'Dell in the stomach who tried to take the blame, Cyrus prepares to kill Poe. Malloy, having recognized that Larkin was telling the truth earlier upon encountering the sightseeing plane has tracked down the Jailbird. He has his helicopter pilot open fire on it and disables one of the engines, causing the plane to lose fuel. With Grissom and the others distracted, shooting from the aircraft's ramp at the helicopters, Poe gains control of the cockpit with an improvised hand to hand combat with prisoners in his path and orders not to fire. When Larkin in a second helicopter, tells Malloy about Poe's identity as a parolee, Malloy orders "hold fire" and joins forces. Attempting to land the aircraft to land at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, the crippled Jailbird is forced to crash land on "The Strip".

The landing causes injuries and fatalities among the inmates while also causing massive destruction along "The Strip" until it comes to a halt in the lobby of the Sands Hotel. Amid the chaos, Poe is thanked by both O'Dell and Bishop for his help as the police arrest the surviving prisoners. Grissom, Jones, and "Swamp Thing" escape on a fire truck. Larkin and Poe see them trying to flee, pursue them on motorcycles, eventually killing all three escapees; Jones being hit by Poe's motorbike, Swamp Thing hurtling through the windshield and being run over after Larkin floods the inside of the fire truck with water from the fire hose, and Cyrus, being beaten by Poe, handcuffed to the fire ladder, and then sent flying after the truck crashes leaving Cyrus to be crushed by a pounder in a nearby construction site. Poe is finally able to reunite with his loving wife and daughter, who have been brought by Larkin to meet him.

In the final scene, a croupier at a craps table in one of the Vegas casinos asks a new shooter if he feels lucky. The shooter, Garland Greene (whom is the only prisoner who apparently escaped), takes the dice, sips a margarita and replies without a smile.

Page last updated by dmcreif, 5 months ago
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