Con Air - Rated: TEPID

Con Air is a con. I went expecting at least a good action movie, and knowing that it was likely to be a bit stupid. But it was very stupid indeed !
The script might once have been a good one, but it looks like everyone walking past the writer's office has been allowed to contribute an idea or two, and a character or two. There's so much going on in this film that the poor viewer just doesn't have a chance. You're overwhelmed with information and characters and crimes and stunts. There's definitely way too much of a good thing here. No wonder the slogan currently in Sydney for the film is "See it again". Believe me, you'd need to, just to try to work out who does what to whom.

It seems to me that the director just doesn't have a clue how to direct a movie. I believe first-time director Simon West won an award for a Pepsi ad (the innertube one, I understand). It shows. This movie is like one of those mad TV commercials with a kind of story and a lot of showing off. But he's got some great actors to work with: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich. Steve Buscemi, John Cusack, Ving Rhames. Of these, only Nicolas Cage seems to realise what's going on around him. He plays his ridiculous role deadpan, similarly to his work in Raising Arizona, and it works a treat. He alone emerges unscathed. Malkovich I think tries the same tactic, and almost pulls it off. Steve Buscemi doesn't even seem to be in the same movie as the others. I wonder why he's there at all. Maybe he was just walking by when they were shooting, and somebody said "Hey Steve, why doncha join us?"

The director has so much to work with, and hasn't got a clue how to use it. I'd love to see how John Woo, Ringo Lam, John McTiernan or Phil Noyce would have dealt with this material (because the basic premise is a good one). I'm sure they wouldn't have left so many loose ends, allowed so many stupid assumptions, wasted so much talent, thrown away so many good stunts and made such a mish-mash of action.