Starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi
Director Simon West
Opens June 6
The director is making his feature debut, and the producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, is on his own for the first time since the death of his partner, Don Simpson, last year. But the filmmakers are taking few chances with this formulaic summer fare, which unites a dozen shackled, sweaty convicts on an airplane (Cage is the good bad guy; Malkovich and Buscemi the bad bad guys); a hostage situation that ensures gunplay and psychotic outbursts; mammoth explosions; and a hero (Cusack) trying to make it all right.
Cage is back in Rock form — muscular and moody and full of quirks. ”I never ask for a writing credit, but I’ve worked with the writer,” Cage says. ”I know it sounds crazy, but [I’ve taken the character] to a spiritual level.” In one scene, when Cage saves a dying friend, ”I wanted to catch him so that he landed into Michelangelo’s Pieta.” Actor Danny Trajo, as a fellow inmate, was more concerned with earthly experiences: After spending 11 years in prison on drug-dealing charges, the costar volunteered as an on-set expert. ”They’d come up to me and say, ‘What should I do about this?”’ Trajo also says filmmaking beats a life of crime: ”It’s fun, and I get paid for it.” UPSIDE Con Air has all the elements of a solid box office hit, a la The Rock. DOWNSIDE It may share too many elements with movies like Executive Decision to take the audience by surprise.