Besides being the kind of super-ballistic blockbuster we're accustomed to from the Jerry Bruckheimer stable, a cast rooted in independent cinema distinguishes "Con Air". Admittedly, Cage is oft seen running the gauntlet these days, but he cut his teeth on Lynch and Coppola. Take Malkovich, Cusack, Rhames, and Buscemi, or Ireland's own Colm Meaney ("The Van" and Chief O'Brien in "Star Trek") and you have an ensemble fit for worthy stuff. But there's plenty of time for that elsewhere. Here, the boys are just having fun.
Cameron Poe (Cage) is reaching the end of a lengthy stretch having murdered a man to defend his pregnant wife. Before they can be reunited he must make a trip on a plane full of America's most nasty criminals. When they get out of hand, the only way Poe can be sure of seeing his family again is by thwarting their planned escape. As if Malkovich's Cyrus ‘The Virus' Grissom was not enough to contend with, US Marshall Vince Larkin (Cusack) must fight a running battle with Duncan Malloy (Meaney) on the ground to stop him blowing the plane to pieces.
The 'tearful wife' bits are mercifully short, and you have no time to mourn the loss of meaning and substance when watching a plane crash-land in the heart of Vegas.
It's silly, but it's also free from pretensions to be anything else. Scott Rosenberg, whose resume ranges from "High Fidelity" to "Spider-Man", provides a punchy script, and Brit-doing-well-over-there, Simon "Tomb Raider" West approaches the spectacle (and all that goes in-between) with an eye that betrays his history in advertising. The actors themselves take care of all that troublesome character stuff.