Con Air: Unrated Extended Edition

If you remember a movie starring Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi as a bunch of convicts who highjack a plane, then you probably remember 1997’s awful Con Air. If you don’t, then the new unrated, extended edition DVD will serve as a great reminder as to why you blocked it out of your mind. The late 1990s were not a good time for action movies. A slew of Jerry Bruckheimer produced lightshows lowered standards and killed off a genre that had strong roots in Die Hard and The Terminator. Con Air is one of those forgettable, and even insulting, action movies. To refresh your memory, Nicolas Cage plays an army ranger, Cameron Poe, who is sentenced to eight years in prison because he accidentally killed a man protecting himself and his wife. Eight years pass and Poe hitches a ride on con air - a prison plane that happens to be transporting the country's most dangerous criminals that very same day. Of course, the plane is hijacked and Poe, once an army ranger, always an army ranger, fights the odds and convicts to save the day.

Five minutes into the movie we hear the judge sentence Poe because he is a “dangerous weapon” and because he can respond to threats with “deadly force,” he is subject to “different laws.” Never mind that all men are created equal; the plot demands that this good guy be on a plane with a bunch of bad guys, and it’s all downhill from there. Once the plane is in the air, Poe has several violent conflicts with other convicts as the movie plods along until the plane crashes into the Las Vegas strip and Poe is reunited with his wife and daughter.

Lucky for us, this is the unrated, extended edition that contains a couple extra minutes of pointless dialogue and confusing sub-plots. Buena Vista Studios opened the vault to assemble an even worse cut of the movie. The extra dialogue slows down a movie that is supposed to move at break-neck speed and makes the movie nearly unwatchable.

However, the always entertaining John Malkovich and occasionally funny, but mostly overlooked, Steve Buscemi make the movie a little less painful to watch. Malkovich’s best moments come when he is merely telling Poe how much he likes him, as opposed to when he is spewing threatening quips, and Buscemi’s creepy tale of wearing a girl’s head as a hat and ironic commentary add a mirage of depth. Yet, ultimately, there is no reason to watch this movie. There are much better action movies and much better movies featuring Malkovich, Buscemi and Cage. Unless you have the need to kill a couple hours and a few hundred brain cells, Con Air is better left forgotten. The new unrated, extended edition of Con Air is quite possibly the most baffling DVD release of all time, which raises a multitude of questions.

Why is this being released? Other than the several minutes of extra footage that we could have done without, there is nothing to warrant this $19.99 double-dip.

Does it make up for the lame, bare-bones first release that didn’t even have an anamorphic transfer? No. While this release does offer a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, there are no other special features that would warrant a second release. There is no audio commentary and no second disc full of making-of features. There isn’t even a theatrical trailer.

Could it be a poor attempt at cashing in on Cage’s upcoming role in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center? Given the tasteless connection that both movies involved planes that are hijacked, I would hope not.

Is it the movie’s anniversary? Being that the movie was released in 1997, this release is a year early for any kind of “anniversary edition.”

Wouldn’t it have been smarter for Buena Vista Studios to release this for HD-DVD/Blu-ray? Yes. This empty, seizure-inducing lightshow is much more suited for the high definition era, which promotes presentation over substance. Buena Vista would have been better off exploiting Con Air to home theater enthusiasts rather than releasing a DVD that you are likely to find in Wal-Mart’s five-dollar bin later this summer.