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Con Air (1997)

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


Simon West


Scott Rosenberg
1,358 ( 621)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colm Meaney ... Duncan Malloy
Mykelti Williamson ... 'Baby-O'
Nick Chinlund ... Billy Bedlam
Renoly Santiago ... Sally-Can't Dance (as Renoly)
John Malkovich ... Cyrus The Virus
Ving Rhames ... Diamond Dog
Dave Chappelle ... 'Pinball'
Rachel Ticotin ... Guard Sally Bishop
Steve Eastin ... Guard Falzon
Steve Buscemi ... Garland Greene
Danny Trejo ... 'Johnny-23'
M.C. Gainey ... Swamp Thing
Landry Allbright ... Casey Poe
John Cusack ... Vince Larkin
Monica Potter ... Tricia Poe


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


They were deadly on the ground. Now they have wings. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

6 June 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Con Air See more »

Filming Locations:

Utah, USA See more »


Box Office


$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,131,738, 8 June 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (extended)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS (8 channels)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Las Vegas scenes were filmed at the legendary Sands Hotel immediately prior to its demolition in late 1996. When the production team heard about the city's intentions to raze the historic landmark, they immediately scheduled a multiple camera setup to take advantage of the rare event, which is what you actually see in the movie. See more »


At the end of the movie Poe and Larkin are fighting Cyrus and Swamp Thing on a ladder truck in a long tunnel. There is no tunnel like that in Las Vegas. The tunnel used is the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles; however, that tunnel goes for only 1500 feet, which is not nearly as long as depicted in the movie. 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 »

Alternate Versions

The TV version contains added dialogue between John Cusack and Ginny, the female officer in the hangar. See more »


References Lethal Weapon (1987) See more »


Theme from A Summer Place
Written by Max Steiner
Performed by Percy Faith and His Orchestra
Conducted by Percy Faith (uncredited)
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Martial artist's worst self-defense nightmare
17 April 2018 | by jeffyoung1See all my reviews

My post is not about Con Air per se but about the movie's beginning. For every honest, decent, honorable person who has studied martial arts for the respectable purpose of self-defense, Con Air presents a realistic scenario of how everything can go wrong for the law-abiding citizen who defends himself.

For starters, the laws of this nation defining 'self defense' have long been established by lawyer politicians and judges who never studied self-defense and more, have never been in a self-defense situation. It's possible a few have served in the military but that doesn't mean they experienced combat. Therefore the laws defining what the law-abiding citizen can and cannot do have been written by politicians who harbored only a vague sense of what legal self-defense should be. They never took into account just how fast and chaotic any life-and-death self-defense situation can be and the victim is not always in the position to determine just what constitutes enough self-defense that a 'reasonable' person would be expected to commit. This term, 'reasonable' and 'reasonable of amount of force' comes up repeatedly in the laws defining self-defense and deliberately cultivates an element of subjective uncertainty that is left up to the jury and judge to decide. The victim is still considered to be a law-abiding citizen and therefore is subject to strict compliance with the subjective laws of self-defense while the criminal aggressor of course is free to use whatever means of violence he chooses. Also bear in mind that the politicians and judges who framed our nation's laws of self-defense; many, not all, greatly disdained violent responses to personal attack because to them it broke the laws of civilization, introduced the law of the jungle and regressed society to the Old West frontier. While you can't pass laws restricting the criminal's violent crime they could pass laws restricting the law-abiding citizen's ability to defend himself.

The set-up in Con Air is pretty stereotypical. Decent man, former US Army ranger, Cameron Poe, celebrates his return home with his beautiful wife in a local bar. And there's the stereotype villain, an obnoxious, drunk, horny, local white lowlife, dressing, looking, and speaking the part. And he has two, silent, lowlife buddies with him to give him courage. Drunk white trash lowlife makes obnoxious, lewd comments to Poe and his wife. Poe and wife put down the idiot and do the right thing, leave the dive. Since the white trash drunk lowlife has two buddies with him, he feels invincible in deciding to thrash the impertinent, clean-shaven Army boy, and maybe get in some rape fun with his wife. Well, that's how it is with bullies, isn't it? They always need to have a couple of guys backing them up. Had the slob been alone, he may have thought twice about going out in the rain to confront Poe (Nicholas Cage). Now the laws of self-defense in almost every state declare that Poe and wife retreat from the scene but it doesn't look like they have much opportunity to do so. A guy by himself could try to duck and run but with a woman on his arm that's out of the question, unless he plans on leaving her behind. As might be expected, the lowlife takes a sucker punch swing at Poe, who, counterattacks with fast, well-placed military combatives hand strikes, one of which, the palm heel strike to the nose, kills the lowlife. His two buddies immediately desert the scene.

At the trial comes the nightmare. You hear nothing from Poe's lawyer, who stands silently like a store mannequin ten feet away from Poe as if he had some communicable disease. You get the sense Poe's defense lawyer was worthless to a tee. Then comes the judge who immediately shows his left-wing liberal views on self-defense by declaring Poe the aggressor and the criminal, simply because he had military combatives training and, "...should have known better." Should have known better, what? How was Poe to know? Men have died from a single punch to the face/head from an untrained assailant and it's happened twice in southern California over the past five years. During a fracas at local baseball park in southern California, a normal, healthy 5'10" man took a punch in the face from another fan. The man collapsed and died two days later.

Now the laws of self-defense being what they are, when you kill someone in self-defense, a lot has to go into consideration. Typically killing an assailant armed with a deadly weapon usually (hopefully) ends with no prison time provided there was no escape option for the victim. Most of the time these situations involved house break-ins with armed burglars. But out in the street, fist-to-fist, it gets murkier. Killing someone in what the judge considers a bar brawl is not self-defense in his mind. You might blame the defense lawyer for not being eloquent or persuasive enough with the judge and jury. When you kill someone in a fistfight often the law declares you guilty of negligent homicide, be it manslaughter or second degree homicide. So you are going to jail. But the jail term should not be as long as Poe received, ten years. The judge could have sentenced him to three years to seven years. With time off for good behavior, Poe could have been out of jail in as little as 18 months to 3 years. Poe would still be vulnerable to a wrongful death lawsuit from the dead man's relatives but that's another worst case scenario.

As you contemplate self-defense, know from the experts that it is chaotic, unscripted and thousand things can go wrong. But in the split seconds that you have, you take the risk, especially as in Poe's case, he could have been badly injured, even killed by three men, with the possibility of his wife been sexually assaulted afterwards, which in this movie was a distinct possibility given the lust the drunk lowlife exhibited to Poe's wife.

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