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Film / Con Air

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"They somehow managed to get every freak and creep in the universe on this one plane, and then somehow managed to let them take it over, and then they somehow managed to stick us right smack in the middle."
Cameron Poe, summarizing the movie for us.

Con Air is an action movie made in 1997, released by Touchstone Pictures and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) loves his wife, Tricia (Monica Potter). Just ask the drunk he killed in the course of defending her when she was pregnant, earning him seven to ten years in prison. He loves his daughter Casey (Landry Allbright), too, taking time every day in prison to communicate with both of them and making sure that he leaves prison a better man than he entered. Cameron Poe is now on parole, and on his way home to see his family. It will be his daughter's seventh birthday.

Cameron Poe is a Nice Guy. Just don't threaten his family. And especially don't try to keep him from them.

Unfortunately, some criminals are about to learn this the hard way, because Poe and his best friend, the diabetic Mike "Baby-"O'Dell (Mykelti Williamson), are put on the Jailbird, a Fairchild C-123 that is not only transporting Poe home, but is also being used by U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin (John Cusack) to transport a number of notorious criminals to a new supermax prison. These include:

Unbeknownst to them, there's an undercover DEA agent (José Zúñiga), under the command of his Jerkass Boss (Colm Meaney).

These criminals are about to learn a hard lesson: Don't. Mess. With Cameron Poe. They don't know Poe from Adam.

And never, ever threaten the bunneh.

Not to be confused with the Conair Corporation, which primarily sells hair care appliances.

The characters sheet.

I said, put. The tropes. Back in the page:

  • Accidental Truth: Poe spins a story about Cindino being untrustworthy, purely as an argument to keep the surviving policemen alive, but it turns out Cindino really is double crossing them right at that moment.
  • Actor Allusion: Colm Meaney's keychain has a Starfleet badge on it.
  • Affably Evil:
    • For a black nationalist who believes that white people are inherently evil, Diamond Dog is one of the friendliest people on the plane and cracks some good natured jokes towards Poe.
    • Swamp Thing is such a jolly, good-humored sort that you almost forget that he's an integral part in a scheme to bust out a planeload of mass murderers, terrorists, and gangsters. He's a drug smuggler himself, but even his actor defends him, pointing out that he didn't kill anyone or get in their faces...
    • Steve Buscemi's Garland Greene. Sure, he killed 30 people in a way that "makes the Manson Family look like The Partridge Family" and recalls with a Creepy Monotone about how he "drove through three states wearing her head as a hat." But he's an intelligent and philosophical Deadpan Snarker, has a quite touching scene with a child, sings a cheery song while the plane crashes, and seems sane as he joins a craps table in the end.
  • All Muslims Are Arab: Subverted. Diamond Dog is a black American Muslim, who shouts "Allahu akbar" as he is released from his cage.
  • All There in the Script: The prisoner Pinball lit on fire to begin the hijacking of the prison plane is named Warlock. He is also sub-credited by the nickname Pinball gave him, "Cochise".
  • Alone with the Psycho: Subverted. The creepy serial killer Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) is having a one-on-one session with a little girl. After a cutaway, we see him walk off with the girl's doll, implying that she's dead. But a subsequent scene shows her well off.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: It isn't clear whether Sally Can't Dance is a camp gay man who wears a dress or a trans woman. Considering this movie was made in The '90s, one could potentially chalk this up to ignorance on the filmmakers' part.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: "Before I kill you, I'll let you know that the last thing that little Casey Poe will ever smell will be my stinking breath." Oh, it's on...
    Poe: You're not getting near my daughter. Buckle up! (cuffs Cyrus just as the truck they're riding on crashes)
    • While introducing the felons boarding the "Jail Bird:"
      Larkin: He ("Billy Bedlam") caught his wife in bed with another man. Left her alone, drove four towns over to his wife's family's house. Killed her parents, her brothers, her sisters, even their dog.
  • Anthropic Principle: The only reason Poe ends up on the titular plane in the first place is because his trial is overseen by the dumbest goddamned judge in cinematic history, because if the case of a trained military man and war hero defending his pregnant wife against a belligerent drunk and accidentally killing him in the process was tried by a realistic court, there would be no movie.
  • Apple of Discord: Poe attempts this when asking why a militant black man like Diamond Dog is taking orders from a skinhead white guy. It fails when Diamond Dog explicitly says he's The Starscream.
  • Armor-Piercing Question
    Poe: You know you're in a situation you can't control, right?
    Sims: I can't control it? I can't control it?!
  • Artistic License: Unlike the film's plane, with its harsh utilitarian design, real Con Air flights use standard airliners that are largely indistinguishable from typical passenger planes. Possibly justified in that the Jailbird was designed specifically to more or less be a flying "maximum security" prison, and as such did away with any comforts or non-essential fixtures that could be taken advantage of by the inmates.
  • Artistic License – Geography: After Swamp Thing announces that they need to land the plane in Las Vegas, he says that they have to land on the Strip as the airport is too far away. They then fly over the Hard Rock Cafe, which is closer to McCarran International Airport than the Strip. Also, the Strip is only a couple of miles from the airport anyways. You can see it from the plane after you land.
  • Artistic Licence – Law: The whole reason Poe was in prison in the first place relies completely on Hollywood Law. Even if the thugs hid their dead friend's knife, Poe had a witness (his wife, whom he was also defending from said thugs), and self-defense does in fact cover defense of another, especially when in response to a deadly threat. Even if discounting the heaps upon heaps of bad luck and incompetence plaguing Poe's court defense, it shouldn't even have made it to court if the investigating officers were any semblance of competent.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: This movie was one of the first works to feature the idea that you can kill someone with a palm strike to the nose because it will make his nose stab his brain. In real life, palm strikes are surprisingly effective blows and you can absolutely knock people out with them (Japanese Mixed Martial Arts used to showcase a lot, as they disallowed closed-fisted punching to the face), but you will rarely kill someone the way described. The human nose is too small and easily deformable to pierce its way to the brain, and even if it did, the latter would need much more damage to be irreversibly destroyed.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • Raise your hand if you've ever seen a first aid kit with a hypodermic needle in it.
    • Also, someone going through severe diabetic shock would be completely incapable of attempting to prevent a rape, no matter how feebly.
    • Probably the most egregious depiction of a diabetic in cinema. If Baby-O is sweating profusely and "near death", then that means he's hypoglycemic (his blood sugar is too low and need to consume carbs/sugar to raise it at acceptable levels), and an insulin shot (which lowers blood sugar) is the last thing he needs.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The drunken, lecherous redneck asshole who tried to assault the Poes and kill Cameron with a switchblade is only lamented because his death is the reason Cameron is in jail.
    • Cindino. After cowardly betraying Cyrus and clumsily attempting to bail the convicts without them noticing, an enraged Cyrus burns him alive.
    • Nobody likes Johnny 23, nobody questions why the hell is he handcuffed to a door and beaten up after they take off from Lerner Airfield, and the only reason the policemen who find his body are appalled at finding his corpse is because of what happened to his corpse.
  • Award-Bait Song: "How Do I Live" by Trisha Yearwood, who covered the first cut by LeAnn Rimes.
    • As a footnote, Rimes' version did better on Adult Contemporary radio, while Yearwood's version did better on the country charts. Both lost the Oscar to "My Heart Will Go On".
    • It was also nominated for both an Academy Award for Best Song and a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Song. (The latter was lost to the entire score for The Postman.)
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Johnny-23 is a serial rapist and quite proud of it. His entire sub-plot revolves around him trying to rape Guard Sally Bishop, even if everybody else (even his fellow convicts) don't want him to.
    • Cyrus "the Virus" brags that he's killed more men than cancer. During the film itself, he is personally responsible for almost 30 deaths, most being prison guards and National Guard soldiers.
  • Badass Bookworm: Larkin is a walking thesaurus, quotes Fyodor Dostoevsky (whose literature speaks of life in prison), and personally sets out to apprehend the escaping convicts, even though he's alone, and knows he's horribly outnumbered.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Malloy concealing a gun into Sims' ankle gets him killed when he tries to take over the plane.
    • Francisco Cindino is a leader of The Cartel and the one footing the bill for the jailbreak operation because he is one of the prisoners that were going to go to the new prison. Poe manages to prevent Grissom from allowing the hostages to be killed by reminding him that Cindino is a backstabbing bastard, doing things like blowing up a car bomb while his own cousin was in it.. and sure enough, Cindino and his Cartel goons were planning on leaving without anybody else.
  • Bald of Evil: Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom.
  • Big Bad: Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • When Baby-O's been shot and begins lamenting that there might not be a god. Needless to say, Poe has finally had enough.
    Cameron Poe: I’m gonna show you God does exist.
    • Before this, Larkin saves Poe from Cindino's thugs.
    • "Make a move and the bunny gets it." (Attack choppers suddenly appear behind Cyrus)
    • Also, Diamond Dog to Cyrus, although Diamond explains that the relationship is merely one of convenience based on a common goal.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    Cindino: Cy-
    Cyrus: -onara!note 
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Pinball is the first of the named convicts to die. Averted in a couple of the white nameless convicts die in the inital take over.
    • Averted in the case of Baby-O but he gives it a good shot by first nearly dying of diabetes and then getting a gunshot wound after being saved with a shot of insulin.
  • Blatant Lies:
    Vincent: Where are you taking my plane, Cyrus?
    Cyrus: We're going to Disneyland!
    Vincent: You're lying, Cyrus.
    Cyrus: So are you, Vince.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Agent Sims when he gets shot in the torso by Cyrus.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Poe kills Billy Bedlam - "Why couldn't you put the bunny back in the box?"
  • Brick Joke:
    • When the cons arrive at Lerner Airfield, they have a near collision with another pilot there. They spook him and he runs off into the desert. Later when they leave, he's still running through the desert.
    • Garland Greene is unaccounted for after the ending plane crash. We don't see any of him until right before the credits... when he turns out to have made an absolute fortune gambling in Las Vegas.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Cyrus told Larkin (via radio) that the Agent Sims pissed his pants after he shot him.
    Cyrus (singing): "Ohhhh, nothing makes me sadder than the agent lost his bladder in the... aaaiiiirrrrrplane!"
  • Bullying a Dragon: Poe winds up in prison because three general lowlifes attack a soldier who is wearing Ranger tabs. The thought process there probably involved a tremendous amount of alcohol. For the best, really.
  • Car Cushion: Pinball falls from the plane onto a moving car.
  • Car Fu: Poe crashes a motorcycle into Diamond Dog.
  • Cassandra Truth: Larkin: "A body fell from the sky with a note on it." Malloy and Larkin's boss just laugh him off.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Malloy's car, which he leaves behind at the office. Vincent jacks it to get to Lerner on time.´
    • Minor version, but still bears mention: the tiny pistol Malloy hands over to Simms is the one Cyrus uses to Shoot Out the Lock of the Jailbird's weapons locker.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: When the cons skid to a halt at Lerner Airfield, Diamond Dog is about to execute three prison guards. Poe tries to reason with Diamond Dog not to kill them until the cons board the second plane with Cindino, the cons' contact at the airfield. Poe argues that Cindino may not be one to be trusted based on what Poe knows of Cindino's history. Diamond Dog is unconvinced until Cyrus interrupts the exchange. Poe tries the same argument with Cyrus and convinces him. Cyrus orders Diamond Dog to stand down and for the cons to dig and pull their plane out from the dirt. Its relevance to the story seems minimal until it turns out that Poe was right; Cindino planned to double-cross the cons all along. This scene was clever in hindsight because Poe was simply trying to save the guards' lives, and may have actually made up his Cindino story in an attempt to break the partnership, and thus prevent the cons from escaping to Mexico before the authorities show up.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Poe is shown working out religiously in prison, including numerous pull-ups and even handstand push-ups. This comes in very handy when he finds himself hanging from the ladder of a speeding fire engine at the end of the movie, and is able to hang on with one arm and protect himself from Cyrus’ attack with the other arm, eventually ramming a wooden spike through Cyrus’ ankle.
  • The Chessmaster: Cyrus, being the mastermind behind the hijacking.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Everyone but Poe and his family are liberal in their use of swears.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The prisoners: Normal inmates get Blue, the really scary ones get Orange, and the pants-wettingly scary Steve Buscemi gets White.
  • Company Cross References: Touchstone Pictures wasn't above sneaking in a few references to the company that owned them. Early in the movie, a prisoner calls one of the guards "lady", to which she responds "Lady is a dog in a Walt Disney movie. My name is Bishop." Later on, one of the prisoners says they're taking the hijacked plane to Disneyland.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lampshaded in the page quote. Cameron Poe gets released from prison on his daughter's birthday, only to wind up on a plane hijacked by inmates, and is forced to stop them because his best friend is trapped on the plane will die if he doesn't get off and receive insulin. Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg...
  • Cool Car: Malloy's car, a silver Corvette Stingray convertible with "AZZ KIKR" as a Vanity License Plate. When Larkin finds out where the convicts are going to land and change planes, a mechanic tells him that he could make it there in time if he had "a fast car". Cue Larkin looking at Malloy's parking spot.
    Duncan Malloy: Sunsets are beautiful. Newborn babies are beautiful. This, this is fucking spectacular.
  • Cool Plane: The Jailbird, a Fairchild C-123 Provider that has been souped up and turned into a flying prison transport.
  • Cowboy Cop: Duncan Malloy.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Larkin makes clear at one point that the idea of convicts actually being able to take over the plane (or at least the level of preparation to accomplish this that Cyrus and the others are currently showing) was never foreseen.
  • Crazy Sane: Garland's speech comparing the 'insanity' of his murders to working 50 years and dying in a retirement home without the dignity to take a piss seems to imply he believes himself to be this.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Cameron Poe, the (sympathetic) main character, is put in prison for accidentally killing someone in defense of his pregnant wife because A) one of the three scumbags who was trying to assault him got rid of the knife his late buddy pulled, B) his idiot lawyer advised him to plead guilty, C) the Hanging Judge on the case says that as an inactive soldier with expert combat training, he should have been more careful since his assailants were unarmed — even though there were three of them. This one is especially bad since it relies hugely on Hollywood Law. It's quite unlikely he'd even be prosecuted (his wife witnessed the entire thing), and he would have a very good chance at trial if they did, so it's unlikely his lawyer would advise a guilty plea. Additionally, it was shown to be a federal case despite no indication the deaths occurred in federal jurisdiction. Plus, a judge giving a defendant a harsher sentence because he's a veteran would be career suicide for the latter and an easy appeal for the former.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Cyrus dies by being chained to the ladder of a speeding fire engine, hurled through a bridge and onto some electrical wires, and finally getting his head crushed in a rock crusher.
    • Johnny 23 dies when one or both of his handcuffed arms are torn from the rest of his body.
    • Garland Greene was particularly fond of these, bragging about sawing a woman's head off and wearing it as a hat for days.
  • Dark Reprise: Garland and a little girl sing "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands". He sings it again as the plane crashes into the Las Vegas strip.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Garland Greene offers sarcastic commentary on the other prisoners' actions during the film.
  • Death by Looking Up:
    • Cyrus Grissom vs. rock crusher.note 
    • A more straightforward example occurs during the shootout in the boneyard, when one of the cons has an entire plane fall onto him, and rather than move, he just looks up and screams.
  • Description Porn: Larkin gives detailed backgrounds on Billy Bedlam, Diamond Dog and Cyrus the Virus, but skimps when it comes to Poe. This makes sense, as Poe is a parolee whose crimes are hardly worth noting, while the other three are lifers with national recognition, at least in Diamond Dog's case.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard on a plane taken over by the country’s most dangerous criminals.
  • Disproportionate Retribution/Misplaced Retribution: Paraphrased from the movie: Billy Bedlam caught his wife in bed with another man. He left them alone, but drove four towns over to his wife's family's house. He proceeded to kill her parents, her brothers, her sisters, and even her dog.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Garland Greene, though he might actually be on anti-psychotics at the time.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Pinball meets a cute girl while stashing the transponder and forgets to get back on the plane.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Larkin orders the guards that are with him at Cyrus Grissom's cell to not touch anything as he races to try to warn that the convicts have made plans to take over the plane. One guard picks up a lunch box that has "Do Not Open" written on it, and another guard reminds him that they have orders to not touch anything. He opens it. It was a bomb.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: During the chase scene finale, two Red Shirt cops join in, dropping their donuts to do so.
  • The Dragon: Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Cameron Poe asks black supremacist Diamond Dog why he's content to be second in command to white Big Bad Cyrus Grissom. Dog replies that while his long term agenda is vastly different from that of Cyrus, he needs to escape before he can get back to it — going along with Cyrus is "a means to an end".
  • Dramatization: There is a passenger jet service dedicated to the secure transport of convicted felons; the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System AKA "JPATS". Many actually do call it "Con Air." But notably? They use this movie as an example of what not to do; Inmates scheduled to fly are given little or no advance notice of their flights specifically to prevent any kind of escape plans. Every con onboard a flight gets the full loadout of handcuffs, ankle and waist chains. Things escalate from there to reinforced mittens and face masks.
  • The Dreaded: Cyrus, Diamond Dog, Johnny-23 and the rest of the cons on the plane are ruthless, murderous thugs who have caused countless death and destruction. Yet every single one of them is scared out of their minds when Garland Greene comes onto the plane. Dog, in particular, is terrified to even go near a guy half his size.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Some of the cons dress as guards during the stop in Nevada, as they need to keep up the pretense of everything being fine so they can pick up Cindino, who's funding the effort, and Swamp Thing, who knows how to disable the locator beacon.
  • Dull Surprise: Poe, when he sees Duncan's sports car attached to the back of the plane he's in: "On any other day, that might seem strange."
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Poe was an Army Ranger. Unlike in many examples, not only does this set up his combat skills, but also refusal to leave a friend behind (plus a sympathetic female guard) as it's part of the Ranger creed (even said via voiceover at the beginning).
  • Empathy Doll Shot: The doll of the little girl that Garland talks to, he takes with him as he walks back to the plane, setting up a Bait-and-Switch that he killed her off-screen.
  • Establishing Character Moment
    • Molloy parking his car on a handicap space before Larkin could finish talking to him.
    • Cyrus speaking Spanish to Johnny-23.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Cyrus Grissom's killed more people than cancer, and he hates rapists. And while (as noted in Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil below) he's turning a blind eye to Johnny-23's particular rap sheet, he makes clear that he will not tolerate Johnny engaging in that kind of behavior during the hijacking, and stops him from doing so with Guard Bishop.
      Cyrus: Can you fly, Johnny?
      Johnny-23: No.
      Cyrus: You keep that in mind when you look at her, because if your dick jumps out of your pants, you jump out of this plane.
    • Diamond Dog is scared out of his mind by Garland Greene and doesn't like having to be the one to release him from his restraints.
    • After Cyrus coldly ignites Cindino for backstabbing and walks away, DD looks at Cindino, then looks at Cyrus, stunned.
  • Expy: Poe and Larkin are basically John Mason and Stanley Goodspeed (a grizzled convict with a military past and a pacifistic yet courageous Badass Bookworm) from Jerry Bruckheimer's previous film, The Rock. The difference is that Nicolas Cage played the nerdy Goodspeed there, and the manly Poe here.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The bulk of the movie takes place on July 14, 1997, the day of Poe's parole.
  • Fakeout Opening: The film begins with a montage about the US Army Rangers.
  • Family Extermination: Billy "Bedlam" Bedford is in prison for killing his wife's entire family after finding her in bed with another man.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Averted. Cameron survives the movie despite constantly mentioning the daughter he's never met, and even having a photo of her he's obsessed with. But then again, he's The Hero.
  • Flipping the Bird: When he realized Warlock wasn't going to stop the plane so he could get on, Pinball flips him off before getting run over and pulled into the wheel well. Warlock just laughs.
  • Foreshadowing: Poe's heroism in refusing to just escape at his friend's expense was foreshadowed with him being an Army Ranger, who have No One Gets Left Behind as a part of their creed (even recited at the beginning of the film).
  • Freudian Slip: Pinball meets a pretty girl, and pretends to be a prison guard.
    Pinball: "I work for the Department of Erec... Corrections".
  • Genuine Human Hide: Garland Greene claims he once killed a little girl and then drove through the state wearing her face as a hat.
  • Giving Up on Logic: Poe's reaction at seeing the Jailbird has somehow ended up dragging a Corvette Stingray as it's taking off in the third act is a deadpan "On any other day, that might seem strange."
  • Good News, Bad News: Pinball is dispatched to find three white convicts named Carl, Benson, and Popovich, because they need to deliver them to the unsuspecting guards below to keep up the ruse that nothing is wrong on the plane. The goods news is that he found all of them. The bad news is that they're all dead because they were shot during the initial takeover of the plane or during Willie Sims's attempt to retake it, making them three men short and forcing them to send out the guards in their place.
  • Guns Akimbo: Diamond Dog briefly dual-wields pistols during the shootout with the National Guard.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Larkin and Malloy argue about the prison system's effectiveness since this tends to happen. Cyrus the Virus is the biggest example.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Cyrus and Nathan use needles to unlock their handcuffs.
  • Hanging Judge: A mild example with the judge that oversees Poe's Crime of Self-Defense. After Poe declares himself guilty (because his attorney told him that the judge would grant mercy if he did so because of apparent lack of evidence for his defense), the judge decides instead to declare Poe a "living weapon" because of his military training and that he should be held to "different standards" than non-military men, and gave him seven-to-ten years in prison. The speech makes it pretty clear that the judge held a prejudice against the military, and the extenuating circumstances (Poe defending his pregnant wife) didn't matter, which in reality would have likely gotten him off completely.
  • Head Crushing: Incorrigible criminal Cyrus Grissom ends up with his head positioned beneath a working pile driver, after a bizarre set of circumstances. He can only rage in futility as the large weight drops onto his face, liquifying his head.
  • The Hero Doesn't Kill the Villainess: Spoofed. Cameron Poe kills several of the criminals during the plane crash (and afterwards, Cyrus the Virus) until he runs into Camp Gay inmate Sally-Can't-Dance, who has been referred to and treated as female the entire time. Poe just knocks "her" aside with a simple slap to the cheek, leaving Sally as one of the few crash survivors.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poe briefly enters one after being forced to kill Bedlam to maintain his cover.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Poe and Larkin steal Las Vegas police bikes to chase down the remaining escaped cons.
  • He's Dead, Jim: The barkeeper checking on the switch-knife punk Poe killed in melee.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: After Cyrus' failed attempt to Shoot Out the Lock, he drops the empty rifle. Sally picks it up and calls out "Cyrus!" He turns around with an angry "What?", and she slams him in the head with the rifle butt.
  • Hollywood Law: The film is probably the single most egregious case of Hollywood Law ever devised.
    • Cameron Poe had an airtight case for self-defense, and the judge's reasoning of Poe being a "human weapon" for throwing the book at him despite a guilty plea should've been laughed out of an appeals court. But that would've ruined the film, now, wouldn't it?
    • Murder is a state crime, so the trial should have occurred in an Alabama court, and Poe should have been sent to an Alabama state prison.
    • The judge says due to Poe's military skills he's a "deadly weapon" and thus not subject to the same laws as others when provoked. Not so — people with military skills retain the same rights to self-defense as anyone else. The fact some thugs were Bullying a Dragon is their bad luck.
    • Diamond Dog's story about getting a book deal would be incredibly unlikely in America, due to the Son of Sam laws that some states have that keep convicted criminals from profiting off their crimes.
    • On a lesser note, they do not transport convicts this way in real correctional systems. The movie shows us why.
    • A prison housing some of the most twisted, violent, ruthless, and cunning criminal geniuses in the world would probably keep these types isolated from one another to prevent them from devising exactly this sort of scheme.
    • Parole has been abolished in the federal prison system since 1984 except for some circumstances that don't apply here, although they can earn time off for good behavior and be under supervised release.
    • Federal prison guards wear jackets reading "Department of Prisons", when they work for the Bureau of Prisons (but the correct name is, oddly, still on the prison bus).
  • Honor Before Reason: Cameron Poe is a former Army Ranger, and refuses to leave a fallen man behind and a female prison guard to be raped and tortured by Johnny-23, even if keeping quiet would mean freedom. Poe specifically states that he couldn't face his daughter if he didn't act this way. "Never will I fail my comrades" and "I will never leave a fallen comrade behind to fall into the hands of the enemy" are explicitly part of the Ranger Creed that all prospective Army Rangers must memorize as part of their training.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Even most of the other criminals are scared of Garland Greene.
  • Human Shield: Discussed and applied by Cyrus during the shootout between him and the Agent Sims on board.
    Cyrus: You know, the next time you choose a human shield, you're better off not picking a two-bit negro crackhead.
  • Human Weapon: Mentioned by the Hanging Judge who sentences Poe to justify throwing the book at him. It's as stupid as it sounds.
    Judge: Cameron Poe, you have pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree. With your military skills, you are a deadly weapon, and are not subject to the same laws as other people that are provoked, because you can respond with deadly force
  • Idiot Ball: The pilot of the plane, learning that there was a fire and a probable disturbance on his plane, does the right thing and trips the alarm and alerts Carson City (their next stop) of a problem on board. What does he do next? Instead of locking the cockpit door where they would be safe (the inmates were extensively searched for any and all weapons) and landing ASAP, the pilot tells the co-pilot to get a gun and check it out. One wonders how Cyrus's ingenious escape plan would have fared without this error in judgment.
    • Even more so with the fact that until Cyrus got the gun, the guards were on the verge of getting the situation with the cons under control again which would have left an unarmed Cyrus against all of them. His entire plan seemed to hinge on him getting someomne to bring the gun out to him and that he would be able to overpower them and not get shot...not exactly a genius plan.
    • And for reasons that are entirely unclear, the two heavily armed Cobra gunships LAND when they reach Lerner Airfield, which they would never do in a combat situation, meaning that rather being able to simply blast the plane on the ground as it tried to take off, they just sit helplessly on the ground.
    • Let's also hear it for the guards in Cyrus' prison. When they realize that he's been planning an escape attempt that is almost certainly now underway, they summon Larkin. Larkin swiftly inspects the cell, realizes where Cyrus is going, and runs out of the cell in a panic, telling them firmly "Don't touch anything!" What does one of the guards do? He immediately sits down, picks up a box with a piece of masking tape on the lid saying DO NOT OPEN, and he opens it, right after another guard tells him not to.note  Boom. The explosion nearly impales and decapitates Larkin, which would've been great for Cyrus.
    • Really, the entire movie happens due to law enforcement holding the idiot ball tight and not letting go. A plane full of psychotic and dangerous convicts is watched over by only a couple police officers and not, say, the military or a whole squadron of officers, Malloy nearly shoots down a tourist plane because he was so gung-ho about shooting down the plane full of convicts, and Poe gets sentenced to prison for five years despite protecting his then-pregnant wife from sexual assault/attempted rape.
  • I'm Going to Disney World!: When Larkin asks Cyrus what he's doing with the plane, he shouts out "We're going to Disneyland!"
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Billy Bedlam gets impaled on a broken strut in the cargo bay during his fight with Poe.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: It seems like Garland Greene, who is touted as a horrific serial killer, is about to kill the little girl he runs into near the abandoned airfield, but he doesn't.
  • Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: Poe is attacked outside a bar by a drunk with a knife and kills him. One of the drunk's friends grabs the knife before the police show up. This, combined with an incompetent lawyer and an anti-military judge results in Poe being sent to the Super Max which starts the plot.
  • Informed Attribute: Garland Greene had supposedly killed more people than any convict on the plane, and had the absolute highest amount of security for transporting him. However, whilst he definitely alludes to having formerly killed people, we never really see any of his murderous aspects on-screen, to the point where it looks like he just might have been cured of them.
  • Inspector Javert: Malloy has trouble believing Poe (or any convict) is good. He also instantly calls for the plane being shot down from the sky even if there's still a few guards being kept as hostages on board, pointing out that the prisoners are just too dangerous to be given a chance for getting away and the hostages knew this was a risk on their line of work.
  • Institutional Apparel: Criminals in jumpsuits of some other color. See Colour-Coded for Your Convenience.
  • Ironic Echo: Casey's letter.
    Poe/Cyrus: "My birthday is on July 14. My daddy is coming home on July 14. I'm gonna see my daddy for the first time ever on July 14."
  • Irony: Notorious criminal Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom allegedly earned his juris doctorate while incarcerated. An advanced law degree earned by someone who'd gleefully break every law known to man.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: As the inmates dance to "Sweet Home Alabama", Garland Greene defines irony as "a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash."
  • I Won't Say I'm Guilty: Averted. Poe pleads guilty at the advice of his idiot attorney, thinking he'll get a reduced sentence. The judge instead hits him with the full sentence under dubious pretenses.
  • Jerkass:
    • The judge who sentenced Poe to prison did so with an extremely flimsy reason.
    • Agent Malloy is an unapologetic Rabid Cop who parks his Cool Car in a handicapped space right after he boasts how awesome it is (his first two lines in the film, even).
    • Guard Falzon who takes away Poe's photo of Casey from him at the initial plane boarding and is generally an unlikable shithead.
    • Interestingly, the only major convict who isn't this is Garland Greene, and he's a Hannibal Lecter rip-off.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • When the plane's about to crash, Malloy points out that civilian casualties could be enormous, which could've been avoided had they shot the plane down in the desert, and considering the plane crashes right in the middle of the Las Vegas strip... yeah, a lot of people would definitely be dead.
    • Larkin sarcastically acknowledged that letting the plane crash land made a mess.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Despite the prison flight being handled by the US Marshals, it became a DEA case by DEA Agent Malloy after DEA Agent Sims was shot dead by Cyrus.
  • Karma Houdini: Garland Greene, though all his villainy is in his backstory. During the movie Garland instinctively realizes Poe is a good guy pretending to be a hard con, and has a lengthy dialogue about ironic situations about how a good man has to act evil to survive. The fact that Garland intentionally leaves a little girl alive during the plane refueling hints that by the end of the movie Garland has decided to act good.
  • Karmic Death:
    • When his dead body is found, Johnny 23's tattooed arm is detached from his body, but still shackled in his cage.
    • As Pinball tries to get the plane to stop so he can get on, the only prisoner to see him is the Native American whom he picked on and set on fire to start the hijacking. Naturally, he doesn't tell anyone what he saw, indirectly causing Pinball's death.
  • Killed Offscreen: The fate of the pilot of the Jailbird by Cyrus, who shoots him after radioing into traffic control; despite claiming to spare him if he didn't say anything out of line. Whether the pilot did inform control about the situation in full or if Cyrus simply lied about sparing him to begin with is left up in the air.
  • Large Ham/World of Ham: Everyone. Cage is in good company here.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: You know what? That makes Poe mad.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Poe pulls this off by doing pushups in a Lotus Position during his montage.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: The movie has a gag where a man is saved from being crushed by a falling corpse because he has to clean up pigeon crap on his windshield.
  • Lunatic Loophole: At the end, when all the other convicts have either been arrested or killed, Garland Greene just walks away.
  • Made of Explodium: Trope Exemplar. Planes explode, cars explode, all of the windows on a bridge detonate when a couple of them are hit by Cyrus and part of a ladder, all bullets make a spark when they hit something metal no matter how flimsy, and the climactic shootout at the Lerner Field junkyard is full of fireballs that are only partially justified by the convicts placing propane tanks around to trap the cops and National Guardsmen coming to get them in a kill box.
  • Man on Fire:
    • The hijacking begins when Pinball pulls a small tube of oil and matches out of his mouth, squeezes the oil out on Warlock, and lights him on fire. Warlock is burned, but ultimately survives. (At least, he survived longer than Pinball.) The commotion from the fire permits Pinball to swipe Guard Bishop's keys and free Diamond Dog and Cyrus.
    • Cyrus casually flicks his lit cigarette into the mix of avgas and gasoline that Francisco Cindino is standing in after the jet crashes into the gas pumps, turning him into a human torch.
  • Meaningful Echo: Poe is called "That guy" by the two most important people in his life; Tricia (in reference to his Dark and Troubled Past) and Baby-O (to remind him he's not a soldier anymore).
  • Meaningful Name: Johnny 23, so named because he was convicted of 23 counts of rape. He claimed to have raped more than 23 women, though.
  • Mistaken for Junkie: In the midst of the explosive chaos at the desert airfield, Poe dives under a car only to find an old mechanic already hiding there. After assuring the old man that he means no harm, he asks for a syringe. The old man tells him he shouldn't be using, but Poe clarifies he needs a first aid kit.
  • Monumental Damage: Jailbird One smashes into some of the Vegas Strip's well known casinos.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Cyrus the Virus.
  • Nice Guy: Cameron Poe. The crime that put him in jail was accidental, and happened because he was trying to defend his wife. The film implies that he wasn't so nice before becoming an Army Ranger ("you almost were... that guy again", from Trish, when the rednecks rile him up inside of the bar), though.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • "Nice work, son. Not only did you not save this dude's life, you done made best friends with Cyrus the damn Virus."
    • Larkin convinces Malloy not to shoot down the plane in the desert and it crashes into the Vegas strip.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Diamond Dog asks Poe to help him fix the landing gear. This gives Poe the opportunity to get a message to Larkin to warn them of where the plane was really heading.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Cameron Poe is an awesome Rambo Jesus that way. He was an Army Ranger, who have this as part of their creed, so Poe refuses to leave his friend behind, nor the female prison guard.
  • No-Sell: Near the ending, Poe walks towards the Big Bad who destroyed his peaceful ride home. A nearby con raises his gun and shoots at the striding Poe, who gets hit in the upper arm. He just keeps walking and kicks the con's ass.
  • Not Quite Dead: Apparently the plane crash in Vegas didn't kill off all the bad guys and they manage to escape with a fire truck.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Garland compares Poe to other famous serial killers which infuriates him.
  • Offstage Villainy: Garland Greene is presented as one of the most horrific and prolific serial killers who ever lived, and is certainly feared by the other criminals, but all his crimes occurred before his introduction. He boasts of killing a little girl and wearing her face as a Genuine Human Hide, yet he thankfully refrains from killing a girl he runs into. The end rather implies that he's gone good, but his past crimes still make him an extreme Karma Houdini.
  • One-Hit Kill: During the initial takeover, Cyrus hits one of the guards very hard in the face as he charges the cockpit. The guard is later seen being dragged by his feet, something not recommended with someone who's still alive.
    • Poe ends up accidently killing one of the men who attack him and Trisha in the beginning of the movie with a palm strike to his nose.
  • One-Steve Limit: Sally Bishop and Sally-Can't-Dance, though it's subverted due to the latter's birth name being Ramon.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Poe piercing a wooden pole through Cyrus' leg causes some screaming but doesn't put him out of action.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: What you get when you cast Nic Cage as a Southern former Army Ranger.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Poe, jumping through a window to save himself from the exploding gas station.
  • Parking Payback: Set up by the universe. Malloy parks his car in a handicapped space early in the film, before everything goes to hell. Larkin steals the car to get to Lerner Airfield fast early in the third act, and it gets completely smashed shortly after he gets there.
  • Pet the Dog: Cyrus backs up Cameron when the latter defends Bishop after Johnny 23 tries to rape her. It helps that Cyrus hates rapists.
  • Pistol-Whipping: After Cyrus' failed attempt to Shoot Out the Lock, he drops the empty rifle. Sally Bishop picks it up and calls out "Cyrus!" He turns around with an angry "What?", and she slams him in the head with the rifle butt.
  • Planning with Props: Cyrus demonstrates the plan to surround the police convoy using soda cans, engine parts and debris. The rock doesn't mean anything, though.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The prison guard in charge of transporting the prisoners says to Pinball "Boy, you are one skinny Negro."
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Both members of the Big Bad Duumvirate are notable racists. Cyrus the Virus says a lot of racist comments toward Pinball and Baby-O, later clarifying to Pinball that he meant it. Diamond Dog is a black supremacist terrorist who believes that all white people are inherently evil. However, both of them are still pragmatic enough to team up with each other, if only for the time being.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Malloy's car is a vintage Corvette Stingray that he makes clear he considers incredibly precious. Larkin steals it and it gets smashed as the convicts escape Lerner Airfield in the third act, and Malloy gets utterly pissed when it comes crashing down five feet away from him.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Cy..." "...onara!"
  • Preserve Your Gays: Sally-Can't-Dance, who's trans or gay, is one of the few survivors.
  • Prison Riot:
    • A part of the montage following Cameron Poe's imprisonment shows him reading his daughter's letters in his cell as other prisoners riot.
    • The hijacking of the Jailbird starts off with one of these by way of Pinball setting Warlock on fire before attacking the guard dragging him away and freeing his fellow prisoners.
  • Prison Ship: The airplane is a prison transport.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: The film featured Nicolas Cage's character doing this while in prison, though he seemed to be in good enough shape already.
  • Profane Last Words: Non-verbal version. Pinball's last act before being killed by the Jailbird's landing gear is to give the convict he set on fire (and is the only one who noticed he's running alongside the plane) the finger.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "You don't... treat... women... like...that!"
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Viking, Curly and Sally guard the way to the cockpit. Poe disposes of them easy.
  • Rabid Cop: Malloy. Several deaths occur because he insisted on his undercover agent bringing a gun to the plane even when he's supposed to be a prisoner (and when Larkin puts his foot down and insists it won't happen, Malloy still manages to pass him a pistol secretly and remains completely unapologetic about it ("if I had known that the plane was going to be taken over, I WOULD HAVE GIVEN HIM AN UZI!!!")). He also constantly advocates just killing all of the prisoners, hostages and actually lawful prisoners playing mole be damned (when Larkin points out that they have hostages, Malloy answers that They Knew the Risks). And when the "Jailbird" is trying to take off from the field...
    Larkin (trying to stop the "Jailbird" from taking off): Shoot the tires!
    Malloy: Fuck the tires! I'm going for the pilot [Swamp Thing]!
  • The Radio Dies First: When Larkin arrives at Lerner Field, he finds the air traffic controller dead and the control tower radio busted.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Serial rapist Johnny 23 gets this line thrown in his face by Cyrus.
      Cyrus: I despise rapists. For me, you're somewhere between a cockroach and that white stuff that accumulates at the corner of your mouth when you're really thirsty. But, in your case, I'll make an exception.
    • Later, Cyrus threatens Johnny 23 to at least wait until they are out of the country before doing such shenanigans with Bishop. And when he actually does try something with Bishop on board and Cameron Poe gets hold of him, well...see Punctuated Pounding above.
  • Rasputinian Death: The ultimate fate of Cyrus the Virus. Wait - I think he just twitched in that rock crusher...
  • Rated M for Manly: Guns, cops, cons, a lot of shirtless scenes, stuff exploding, male virtues like honor, etc.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: During the final chase scene, Larkin tosses his gun onto the road when it runs dry. On the one hand, he should have brought spare magazines to a firefight and on the other, no U.S. Marshal would carelessly discard their weapon for someone to pick up.
  • Red Baron: Some of the cons have nasty-sounding nicknames applied to them. Cyrus "the Virus" is just one of them.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Garland Greene again. At the end of the movie he is alive and probably free, too. He is the Karma Houdini, if we look at his past. But he refrains from killing the defenceless little girl, thus (in some way) redeeming himself and earning this karmic prize.
  • Red Shirt Army: The National Guard sent to apprehend the con's at the boneyard, who come there in a rescue operation. Driving straight down through rows of junked airplanes that just screams "perfect spot for an ambush" they proceed to indeed get ambushed by forewarned cons, who kill a lot of them easily. Larkin has to bail them out using a bulldozer to provide cover for them to break through, although once through the ambush they pretty quickly force the Cons to fall back to the plane and retreat.
  • Redundant Rescue: Most of the surviving guards make it off the plane on their own power.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Garland Greene does this. It's how we know he killed a girl and used her head as a hat.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Billy Bedlam's revenge on his cheating wife.
    Agent Sims: The mass murderer?
    Larkin: The same. He caught his wife in bed with another man. Left her alone, drove four towns over to his wife's family's house. Killed her parents, her brothers, her sisters, even her dog.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The movie was inspired by a newspaper article about a plane that transports convicts.
  • Scary Black Man: Diamond Dog. He's a Malcolm Xerox without the glasses or the soapbox. Strangely, he's one of the most well-spoken characters in the entire movie, and wrote a New York Times bestseller in jail. And was interviewed by Geraldo. And there was talk in-story about a movie being made about him, with Denzel being cast to play him.
  • Schmuck Bait: The cops are investigating the stuff Cyrus left behind his cell wall planning out the plane hijacking. Vince leaves the cell, and tells the guards not to touch anything. They see that one of the boxes is marked "Do Not Open". The bomb inside it explodes when they open it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Old Con onboard the plane volunteers to take one of the dead convicts place, saying that he’s ‘too old for this shit.’
  • Serial Killer: Garland Greene is a serial killer who killed dozens of people along the East Coast in what's implied to be unusually horrific ways (the only thing he says is he'd wore one of his victims head as a hat). Even many other hardened cons fear him, though he never harms so much as a fly in the film, even sweetly having tea with a young girl. At the end, it's implied he's cured of his homicidal impulses somehow.
  • Serial Rapist: Johnny-23 is named for his twenty-three counts of rape. Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom, the resident Big Bad, despises him, making a point of telling him to keep it in his pants when around the only female guard, or "you jump out of this plane." He boasts to said female guard, "They'd call me Johnny 600 if they knew the truth", and later tries to attack her, leading to a very well-deserved beatdown from Cameron Poe.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Half the Trope Namer. John Cusack's Marshal Vince Larkin:
    Larkin: [Cindino's] known to be somewhat garrulous in the company of thieves.
    Malloy: Garrulous? What the fuck is garrulous?
    Larkin: That would be loquacious, verbose, effusive. How about "chatty"?
    Malloy: [to Devers] What's with Dictionary Boy?
    Larkin: "Thesaurus Boy", I think, is more appropriate.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Garland Greene was introduced while restrained in a manner similar to Hannibal Lecter, complete with mask. This was likely intentional.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: How Cyrus opens the gate to the plane's front section. It does take an entire magazine from an assault rifle to do it, though.
  • Shout-Out: Nathan Jones's nickname, Diamond Dog, is a reference to David Bowie's 1974 album with the same name.
  • Significant Reference Date: Cameron Poe's daughter's birthday note  was July 14, the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, an historical event that foreshadows what happens onboard the "Jailbird" (it's taken hostage by convicts). note 
  • Sissy Villain: Sally Can't Dance, one of the villainous prisoners, is a camp gay guy in a dress, or trans woman (it isn't clear).
  • Situational Sexuality: The escaped convicts all throw Wolf Whistles at Sally-Can't-Dance after s/he's found a dress at the abandoned airfield. Cyrus even stuffs a rifle magazine into the Victoria's Secret Compartment while instructing Sally to guard the hostages.
  • Slashed Throat: Diamond Dog slits a guard's throat with his cuffs during the initial takeover.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Poe, who spends most of the movie in a tank top.
  • The Slow Walk: Poe's trademark. Even when he tries to outrun an explosion, the scene gets a lot of slow-mo.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Pinball falls off the plane to the tune of "A Summer Place". Also Garland Greene singing "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" while the plane crashes.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Mentioned; after Pinball intentionally sets a fellow prisoner on fire in order to create a distraction for the other more dangerous prisoners about to attempt to hijack the plane, in the middle of all the confusion Pinball shouts that it was an act of spontaneous combustion.
  • Spotting the Thread: Poe makes up an excuse about having another fifteen years to serve so he can stay on the plane instead of getting off in Nevada. Bedlam later confronts him, noting that Poe's supposed sentence would put him in North Block, where Bedlam was also housed, yet the two have never met. Poe dismisses their unfamiliarity as having no desire to interact with any of the 150+ prisoners on North Block, Bedlam included, but Bedlam remains suspicious of him from then on.
  • The Starscream: Diamond Dog admits he is one of these to Poe, saying he'll go along with Cyrus and follow his orders until he doesn't need him anymore, and then "the Day of the Dog begins."
  • The Stinger: After the fade to black, Garland Greene is shown having a drink at the Craps tables.
  • Strawman Political: Malloy keeps accusing Larkin of being this.
    Malloy: Of course you can't reach [Larkin]! He's probably off saving the rainforests, or recycling his sandals or some shit!
  • Surrender Backfire: Non-lethal example. Poe's entire situation occurs, or at least was exacerbated, by him following the advice of his lawyer to plead guilty to his charges and let the judge show mercy, not knowing that his case was being presided by a Hanging Judge.
  • Talking through Technique: Apparently, the inmates communicated with another through stencils.
  • Tempting Fate: It's discussed what a brilliant idea it was to put all of the most dangerous criminals in the country on the same plane. Larkin's assistant hopes nothing goes wrong. He replies that the plane is a well-oiled machine. He was frankly asking for it.
    "All they'll have to worry about is stale peanuts and a little turbulence."
  • There Is a God!: As Mike "Baby-O" O'Dell is dying on the plane, he tells Nicholas Cage's character that sometimes he wonders if there's a God. Cage's character tells him he'll show him there is one, and then starts kicking Con butt.
  • Title Drop: Upon taking over the plane, Cyrus gets on the intercom and announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air!"
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • A pair of guards are left to watch over Cyrus's prison cell, with clear orders from Larkin not to touch anything in the hidden compartment they just uncovered. One of them ignores him completely, opening a box with the words "DO NOT OPEN" written across the top. Kaboom.
    • DEA agent Sims gets killed by Cyrus after blowing his cover and trying to take the plane back by himself while armed only with a very small pocket pistol.
    • One of the drunken thugs in the opening ends up dead after attacking Poe. It must have been a prolific amount of alcohol to think attacking a soldier wearing Ranger tabs would end any way but badly.
    • Unsurprisingly, bringing a gun on a flight proves to be the downfall of both the co-pilot and pilot of the Jailbird as Cyrus uses it to kill them both. Bonus points for Cyrus using it to hold the pilot hostage, then shooting him after radioing into traffic control anyway. Unlike the co-pilot, who is shot in the gut trying to kill Cyrus, we never see the specifics that set off the pilot's death.
  • Training Montage: In the title sequence we see Nicolas Cage's character working out in his prison cell.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Has two.
    • "How Do I Live?" is first heard when Poe comes home from the army to find his wife Tricia and their unborn daughter Casey. It is heard again in the end when he finally meets Casey in person.
    • "Sweet Home Alabama" is heard first when the cons escape the boneyard, then again in the end when we see Garland Greene is still at large.
  • Unflinching Walk:
    • Played with. The cons are walking away from a burning plane, and when it explodes, Cyrus doesn't react and keeps walking, but everyone else flinches or turns around to look.
    • Poe walks towards a gun-toting con after the plane crashes and is on fire, taking a bullet in the shoulder without pausing.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • No one cares that Poe cuffed Johnny-23.
    • Upon seeing Malloy's car tethered to the plane:
      Poe: On any other day that might seem strange.
  • Vanity License Plate: AZZ-KIKR for Malloy's car.
  • Vapor Trail: Cyrus casually flicks his lit cigarette into the mix of avgas and gasoline that Francisco Cindino is standing in after the jet crashes into the gas pumps, turning him into a Man on Fire.
  • Video Credits: With everyone happy and laughing with "Sweet Home Alabama" as BGM.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Cyrus, usually very composed and in control, standing on the open ramp of the plane in flight, holding a pistol to the head of the bunny, yelling at an assault chopper.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Where the bad guys plan to land in, and where the plane crashes.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Malloy's car doesn't survives the events of the movie. Even when he lets Larkin off the hook for its destruction, he still mentions that he loved it.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Cameron Poe becomes one when he catches Johnny trying to rape a female guard. See Punctuated Pounding, wherein he slams the bastard's head repeatedly into a bulkhead while teaching him Chivalry 101. The very reason he was in jail in the first place was to defend his wife from being attacked by three drunken idiots.
    "Do not! Treat! Women! Like! THAT!"
  • Wild Goose Chase: When the convicts remove the plane's tracking device and places it on a scenic tours flight.
  • The Worf Barrage: When Malloy finally gets his Cobra to start shooting up the plane, there is a patently absurd sequence where sustained bursts of 20mm Gatling gun rounds just bounce off the ramp and otherwise bounce around like they are little more than small arms rounds. When in reality, the cannon shells would blow straight through one side of the plane and out the other turning it into a fireball in a handful of seconds.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Quite a few of the prisoners are guilty of very violent crimes against women.
    • Johnny 23 of course as a Serial Rapist who was convicted of 23 counts of it and tries several times to have his way with Bishop, even going so far as to make her number 24. Poe takes it as well as expected when he sees this.
    • A couple of Billy Bedlam’s victims were his wife’s mother and sisters.
    • Garland Greene mentions to driving around three states wearing a girl’s face as a hat and quite possibly had a few more female victims.
    • While Cyrus considers Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil. He has no problems killing Bishop once his plans have been ruined and to draw out the “traitor” who’s been feeding information to the authorities. She's also slammed in the head by Pinball during the initial hijacking.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: During his Foe-Tossing Charge, the last person on the line is Sally-Can't-Dance, who is — depending on your interpretation — either Camp Gay or a trans woman. Poe nearly punches Sally, hesitates, then slaps instead.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Before the plane crashes in Vegas, Cyrus angrily tells Poe that the last thing that his daughter will ever get to smell “will be my stinking breath” Poe doesn’t give him the chance to get anywhere near little Casey.
  • Wrong Insult Offence:
    Vince Larkin: [to Sims while walking to the surveillance truck] We pick up Mr. Cindino in Carson City. From then until the plane hits Alabama, we've got two hours to get him to talk. We got you a seat right next to him, and he's known to be somewhat garrulous in the company of thieves.
    Duncan Malloy: Garrulous? What the fuck is garrulous
    Vince Larkin: That would be loquacious, verbose, effusive. How about chatty?
    Duncan Malloy: [to Devers] What's with Dictionary Boy?
    Vince Larkin: "Thesaurus Boy" I think is more appropriate.


Video Example(s):


Con Air Roll Call

The main villains of Con Air are introduced via clunky exposition.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / Introdump

Media sources: