Explosive R-Rated Action Blockbuster On Hulu Gives A-List Cast Permission To Go Nuts

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

I grew up in the odd era when Nicolas Cage was one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood, and it made me a lifelong fan of Cage, particularly his 90s movies. While Face/Off and The Rock are defined largely by the style of their directors, Con Air is defined by the unhinged performances of an incredible cast where Cage is right at home. The result is one of the most fun action movies of the 90s. 

High Concept High Octane Action Thrill Ride

Nicolas Cage

Con Air takes place on a prisoner transportation plane hijacked by a group of prisoners as part of an escape plan. Former Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Cage), who is about to be released, is one of the prisoners who covertly works against the hijackers. It’s a high-concept movie with a straightforward action plot elevated by its unique setting and strong performances. 

A Major Hit And Cage’s Best Hair Ever

nicolas cage con air 2 feature

When it was released in 1997, Con Air was a massive hit in theaters, though it divided critics. The film earned $224 million at the box office over a $75 million budget, a particularly strong return for an R-rated movie. Its 58 percent on Rotten Tomatoes indicates how the movie divided critics, with some finding its over-the-top nature charming while others found it overly cheesy.

The Recognizable Cast Of Malcontents

john malkovich u-foes

Con Air is full of iconic 90s actors, including A-list stars and fan-favorite character actors. In addition to Nicolas Cage at the height of his popularity, the movie features John Cusack as a secondary protagonist and John Malkovich as the unforgettable mastermind antagonist. The cast is rounded out by character actors like Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Colm Meaney, Mykelti Williamson, Monica Potter, Dave Chappelle, and Danny Trejo.

Everyone Understood The Assignment

The first film directed by Simon West, Con Air, is kept from feeling like a color-by-numbers action movie by the stellar performances. While most of the characters are fairly stereotypical, every actor dials it up to eleven, and the result is one of the rare films where it feels like most of the cast matches Nicolas Cage’s energy. Almost every actor gives a memorable performance, but Steve Buscemi’s role as the serial killer Garland Greene has haunted me since I was young.

By setting the film mostly on planes, Con Air faced a unique production challenge that it overcame with great practical effects. Much of the film extensively used 1/15th scale models of various aircraft throughout the movie and custom sets designed to recreate the claustrophobic setting. As a result of these great practical effects, it still holds up visually today. 

Streaming On Hulu


There’s a lot to love about Con Air, but it does overindulge in 90s action cliches to its detriment. One of its biggest weaknesses is its dialogue, which is frequently bogged down by overly expositive conversations and forced one-liners that the actors can’t always salvage. Its otherwise breakneck pace is also slowed down by the cutaways to the US Marshalls trying to piece together what’s happening, which are consistently less interesting than the events on the plane. 

Con Air is far from a cinematic masterpiece, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. With memorable scenes like the iconic final explosion and the chaotic initial hijacking, it’s a flawed but incredibly entertaining film. Fans of exaggerated, silly action movies absolutely must watch Con Air on Hulu.