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A prison parolee- on his way to freedom- faces impossible odds when the maximum security transport plane he is on is skyjacked by the most infamous murderer Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom! Buckle up and hang on tight as explosive, high-flying action soars to new heights...and delivers high-caliber motion picture enjoyment!
For more about Con Air and the Con Air Blu-ray release, see Con Air Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on July 15, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Nick Chinlund
Director: Simon West
» See full cast & crew
Con Air Blu-ray Review
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air.”
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, July 15, 2009
I've never been a huge fan of Jerry Bruckheimer, but I will say this: when you go see a JB-produced film, you know exactly what you're going to get—a big budget blockbuster crammed with impressive set pieces and punctuated by mammoth explosions. And obviously, as audiences have attested year after year, there's a market for this kind of filmmaking. People want mindless, salt 'n butter-coated popcorn fun, and no one has mastered the glossy art of eye-gouging, ear-piercing escapism—and it is an art—quite like Jerry Bruckheimer. The man was on a roll during the mid 90's, giving us Bad Boys, The Rock, Con Air, and Armageddon in less than five years. Con Air is probably my second favorite of the four—it's hard to touch The Rock— but it's also problematic. The action sequences are frenetic and tight, but the emotional elements drag and the plot has more holes than the socks I wore in college.
Let me start by saying that the film is bookended by two terrible moments of piled-on, extra- thick, sentimental cheese, both set to Trisha Yearwood's tear-jerking ballad, "How Do I Live." The first time we hear the cloying country tune is when Cameron Poe (Nicholas Cage) is reunited with his wife Tricia (Monica Potter) in a dive bar after serving in the Gulf War. The reunion is short- lived, though, when, in the act of defending himself and his wife's honor, Poe sends the nose cartilage of one the bar's seedier patrons straight into the man's pea-sized brain. He gets eight years in jail for involuntary manslaughter. The film finally revs up when Poe is put on a cargo plane bound for Alabama, where he'll be released on parole. Unfortunately for him, the plane's passengers—minus Poe's diabetic cellmate Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson)—are all criminally insane inmates who hijack the flight in an attempt to flee to a "non-extradition territory." Meanwhile, U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack) and DEA Agent Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney) butt heads over how best to apprehend the convicts and retrieve the stolen plane.
Director Simon West compares Con Air to a lifeboat or submarine film, and in a way it does seem like the evil cousin of U-571 or the similar, a men-on-a-mission flick set in a confined space that sustains the simmering tensions felt by the cloistered characters. And Con Air has no lack of absolutely insane characters. Ving Rhames is Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones, a black supremacist waiting to seize power. Dave Chappelle is Joe "Pinball" Parker —"armed robber, arsonist, dope fiend." Steve Buscimi channels a more weasel-ish Hannibal Lecter as Garland "The Marietta Mangler" Greene. And yes, everyone in this film has a nickname. The ringleader of this aerial circus is Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, a bald-headed, whacked-out intellectual whose guard-killing proclivities are "well known and often-lamented facts of penal lore." John Malkovitch carries the role with a maniacal twinkle in his otherwise steely eyes, and his do-or-die interactions with Nick Cage, along with some genuinely impressive action sequences, are what keep the film aloft.
And this is fortunate, because there's a steady downdraft of outright ridiculousness that threatens to ground the film at every turn. When the already-hijacked plane lands in Carson City to pick up additional prisoners, are we really to believe that none of the law enforcement officials on the ground would pop into the plane to make sure everything is going smoothly? This seems particularly odd when we've already witnessed the great lengths that the guards go to in order to restrain the prisoners. Then, when the plane lands at the nearly deserted Lerner Airfield, there just happens to be a little girl playing in a dried-out swimming pool, conveniently placed to tempt Garland Greene's child-predator instincts. Perhaps the most gimmicky plot device is Baby-O's diabetes—he claims he'll die in two hours if he doesn't get insulin—and Poe, as an Army Ranger, can't leave a fallen man behind.
This is a summer action flick, though, and the jagged plot points are smoothed over by some big budget shock and awe. The film's climatic descent onto Vegas' neon-lit Strip trades realism for a kind of absurd action-hero bravado, and though some of the digital and model effects look somewhat dated today, I found myself believing—for just a split second—that it was all actually happening. Then they had to go and ruin it all by playing that song again.
Con Air Blu-ray, Video Quality
With a 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer of its 2.35:1 OAR image, Con Air takes flight on Blu- ray, but stops just shy of soaring. Gone are the dull colors of the DVD release, replaced by a rich palette. Most of the film flies by in dusty desert hues—see the sandstorm in Carson City—and the textured blues of prison denim. Then, when we get to Vegas, the Strip comes alive with nicely saturated neon reds and purples. Black levels are tight and strong, as evidenced in the early fight outside the bar, and the image throughout has a decent sense of depth for a mid-90's title. Skin tones are warm and natural. The negatives then are few, but noticeable. For one, the film looks sharper than I had expected, but this comes with a price: the rampant, sometimes black sometimes white haloing that accompanies edge enhancement. Other than that—and some slight wavering during a few scenes—this transfer is crisp, bold, and provides plenty of explosive eye candy.
Con Air Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Con Air lands on Blu-ray with a pounding and volatile Linear PCM 5.1 surround track that takes no prisoners in its sonic assault. A brawny low-end presence rumbles beneath the entire film, bringing explosions and dramatic accents to thunderous life. The mid-range pops with crisp rounds of gunfire and well-articulated vocal work. And high-end sound effects—like the brisk click of a shotgun's pump action—are detailed and clear. There's rarely a dull moment in Con Air, and the rear channels are put to frequent use, handling both the grim rock score and a never ending ambient stream of whizzes, pans, and cross-fades. There's not a lot of subtlety in the mix—it's overwhelming more than anything—and though there's plenty of immersive action, if you listen closely, sometimes the movement of the audio doesn't exactly match up with what's happening on screen. Still, the lossless mix is a powerful, heart-pounding affair, and it makes the also-included Dolby Digital track sound thin and lifeless in comparison.
Con Air Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Movie Showcase is basically a series of bookmarks that lets you demo the HD picture and sound by selecting three big cinematic moments. While it is presented in 1080p, the audio is in Dolby Digital, so you're not really getting the full HD experience.
A View From Above (SD, 4:39)
This is the very definition of EPK featurette, and offers nothing to anyone who has seen the film before. Most of the scant running time is composed of footage from the film, with a few brief, substance-free interviews from key cast members.
The Destruction of Las Vegas (SD, 2:41)
The first forty seconds of this piece are rehashed from the previous feature, and we really only get a glimpse of the destruction of Las Vegas for about a minute.
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:28)
Con Air Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Con Air definitely belongs in the cinematic kiddy pool—shallow and fun—but it's a decent enough way to pass a couple of hours on a lazy weekend afternoon. Nicholas Cage gives another "white trash nobility" performance, John Malkovitch seethes with uncorked rage, and the film offers up more than a few hold-on-to-your-butts action sequences. This Blu-ray release brings the goods with a full-bodied AV package, but the lack of extra features, and the non-inclusion of the unrated, extended cut keep me from giving Con Air a hearty recommendation. Unless you're really jonesing for a Nick Cage fix, I'd hold out for the inevitable re-release.
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Con Air Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Rock, Con Air, and Crimson Tide Re-dated - October 17, 2007
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they have finally rescheduled a trio of action flicks which were postponed earlier this year. The Rock and Con Air will get a Blu-ray release on January 8th, followed the next month by Crimson Tide. No specs have ...
Con Air Blu-ray Screenshots
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