Last week I was Zoom-ing with some coworkers for our now virtual weekly social hour. We were talking about what movies we’d been watching, and he mentioned Con Air. I realized I didn’t own it. Now it’s kind of a running thing how insane my movie collection is, moreso now that you see it behind me on most video calls. “OMG you found the one movie I don’t have!” Of course now I had to fix it. So I did.
I swear I had seen this movie before. Or at least I assumed I had. It was always on TV, surely I caught it in pieces here and there, yeah? Not to mention the whole controversy over the theme song happened at the tail end of my country phase (I was team LeAnn), so I must have been extra motivated to watch this. Well if my surprise at basically every second watching was any indication, there’s no way I could have seen this before and forgotten every glorious moment. I have a new favorite movie. Sorry Aladdin. Okay not really, but this will not be the last time in the near future that I watch this.
So let’s set it up for the one theoretical reader that may not know this movie. Nicholas Cage is in the service for no reason other than to establish him as a really good guy who knows how to be violent if necessary. He gets into a bar fight and accidentally kills a dude, which sends him to prison for a crazy long time. Cage is finally granted parole, so he bums a ride on a plane with a bunch of criminals far more hardened than he is. The baddies end up hijacking the plane, and him being the really good guy who knows how to be violent if necessary, he takes it on himself to try and rescue the cops and few other good people on board. Basically Die Hard on a plane full of wannabe Hans Grubers. Best of all, it leans in hard to every cheesy action trope of the 90’s.
Now I generally refer to myself as an action movie girl, being my Daddy’s daughter and all. Recent years have mostly cooled me to the genre because I don’t like action for the sake of action. The films that make me love the genre are the ones that are gritty and dirty, grounded in practical effects: John Wick, Upgrade, any early Jason Statham. But there’s the rare movie that can transcend the genre and remind me why I love movies. Con Air was one of those. Yes. I’ll say it again. Con Air reminded me why I freaking love movies so dang much.
Every moment was bigger than the one before. But all the things I should have hated–the dumb one liners, the excessive effects (not too CGI thankfully), the overacting–added to its charm. I was running on so much adrenaline cheering every over the top the detail that just kept piling on as the film doubled down yet again on its excess.
So why did it work so well? I think because it wasn’t just one actor or director enacting their vision because they think they know better than everyone else (looking at you Michael Bay and Zack Snyder). Instead, every single person was committed 100%. Nicholas Cage, John Malcovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Dave Chappell, Steve Buscemi. All of them were on board. No one was rolling their eyes internally. They were chewing the scenery with gusto. And you know all the people behind the camera were giving it their all too. Was the explosion guy phoning it in? Absolutely not! He was giving every bit of firepower he had. What about the writers who just kept piling it on? Well if we already had a plane full of baddies, where else could you crash land it but the Las Vegas strip. Go big or go home, people!!!
So yeah, it might seem strange for me to say that Con Air reinvigorated my love for movies, especially given how many boxes it ticks off for bad movie criteria. But ultimately, movies are meant to be fun. And you can’t get any more fun than this. Plus I’m sure Daddy was watching this with me, laughing and cheering from the great beyond. He really did raise me right.