Con Air is one of those movies that created a slew of action movie parodies. It’s so absurd, the dialogue so ridiculous, and the premise so utterly incoherently preposterous, you can’t help but laugh. You know what though? It’s enormously entertaining.
Con Air follows a group of the most politically correct villains in the history of film, all headed onto an airplane for transfer to another prison. On board is good guy Nicholas Cage, complete with the worst southern accent in the history of film, to save the day when things go awry. As in any completely illogical action movie, the set-up is only there to ensure complete mayhem is to follow. There’s plenty of it.
The show stealer here is John Malkovich, having a blast as the leader of the villain side of things. He’s never given some hideously cheesy one-liner to spout off, but plays it straight and offers more laughs than the rest of the cast written as comedic relief.
Everything about Con Air screams ‘90s action movie. This is Jerry Bruckheimer at his peak action output. Each action sequence increases its absurdity level until the finale has nowhere to go other than straight through Las Vegas… literally. The opening fight sequence sets the tone, with fire pouring out of the factory behind it, low camera angles, pouring rain, and a generic set of characters. It nearly becomes a parody of itself right from the start.
For each increase in its stupidity factor however, the movie simply becomes even more entertaining. It doesn’t matter where your movie tastes lie. Seeing a massive jet plow through Vegas is an amazing sight. Here, it’s done with some solid editing, impressive effects, and a high level of intensity.
Con Air delivers the thinnest of characters, known more by their ethnicity or, uh, “sexual preference” than anything else. Nearly everyone is playing a stock villain, and with such a loaded cast, some are inevitably pushed to the side. Steve Buscemi is wasted as a serial killer, given only one real sequence to work with.
Dialogue, once past the exposition, is littered with priceless one-liners. Usually an action movie will deliver just before the lead villain goes down, but Con Air tosses them out with regularity like the scriptwriters couldn’t pick just one. It adds to the pure cheese factor, and elevates the film to a new level of self-parody you simply have to experience for yourself. Losing a few brain cells on this one is well worth it.
With its Blu-ray debut, the film looks fair. The key problems are spotty edge enhancement and some significant DNR. While the grain removal offers a clean and clear presentation, it causes inconsistent detail. Faces are either brimming with detail or appear flat and lifeless. Flesh tones are accurate, colors are strong (the Vegas lights are spectacular), and the look is sharp. Black levels remain solid throughout, providing a nice contrast.
Disney goes with an uncompressed PCM mix for this effort, and it shines. Gunfire, explosions, debris, and even minor ambient audio fill the rear speakers. Positional dialogue can be heard, and it’s always accurate. Bass could use a slight kick as a plane crashing should literally shake your home. This disc doesn’t quite deliver. That said, every action scene is a showcase for a home theater, and a blast to listen to.
Not only did Disney not include the unrated cut of the film, they also failed in the extras department. Two completely worthless promotional featurettes run about seven minutes total. The worst of the two, Destruction of Las Vegas, doesn’t even cover what the title states. There’s no excuse.