Con Air Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

Con Air is one of those films where a whole lot has to go just perfect for the villains to even have a chance at kicking things off. While you will have to suspend some disbelief, I suppose the idea is that 99% of the time this fails so the film is about the one time that things do work out for them. It’s a good movie that I can’t help but feel could have been even better.

The movie starts with Cameron finally back home from the army and ready to have a good time with his wife and future kid. Unfortunately he is attacked by 3 hooligans and ends up murdering one of them in self defense. Despite this obviously being the only course of action available at the time, he is close to 10 years. Seriously? That definitely seems pretty iffy considering that his only other course of action would have been to die. Stopping these guys without accidentally murdering them would be incredibly difficult.

Well, the years pass and Cameron is finally about ready to be released. Unfortunately the government wants to save a few bucks so they’re going to put him on the jet that will be storing all of the max criminals on it. They don’t trust their own guys with any guns so there is only one that is located in the pilot room and some weapons on the basement level. All of the criminals are handcuffed so they figure that it’s all good. What could go wrong right?

Well, unfortunately the crew handles this really poorly. They let the criminals take control of the plane almost immediately and fall for every trick in the book. They’re overwhelmed with ease and now Cameron is stuck on the plane with these guys. He’s really trying to get home to his daughter before it’s too late but he knows that first he has a job to do. He can’t turn his back and let these criminals go free.

Initially I thought this might be a film where Cameron is knocking off the criminals one by one to thin out the herd before making his move. Instead it’s more about lying low and trying to get word out to the proper authorities. Of course, Cameron does do his share of big damage by taking out several of his opponents.

Cameron’s definitely a great main character. At the end of the day he’s a hero who does his best to try and save the day even when it would have been easier to leave. Especially once one of the prisoners ends up getting really sick because he needs his insulin shot. Cameron won’t leave without helping him out and it’s lucky for the heroes since they would have been absolutely doomed without him.

As a side note, the accent may be trying a little too hard but it’s fun. Half the time it just felt like Cameron was being sarcastic to everyone rather than him actually having the accent. This kind of action hero just doesn’t get old and since we had the intro scene as a way to know just how tough he is, it’s not surprising when Cameron keeps on taking his opponents down.

Of course a lot of these guys are absolutely terrible characters. It may be expected and even intentional since they’re villains but it immediately lowers the odds of good character banter. You’ve got Johnny who is just a disgraceful character. Any scene with him is painful. You’ve got Pinball who doesn’t have much personality beyond the fact that he definitely wasted too much time chatting which cost him big time. Earl doesn’t show up until the second half but I suppose he was a lot more interesting than some of the other villains. The fact that he could pilot the ship was also very convenient. Without him there the villains would have been in for a tougher time.

The main villain here would be Cyrus. He’s the leader of the crew and the one who comes up with the big plan. The other villains definitely fear him as he has quite the reputation. That said, at this point it’s not like any of them are master fighters or anything so I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of the villains look all that tough. Cyrus talks tough but that’s about it. Same with Diamond Dog. The whole time you’re waiting for him to do something or attack Cyrus but it doesn’t really play out that way.

The villain who got the most hype throughout the film was a guy called Garland. He’s supposed to be the worst of the worst which is where the film builds some of its tension from. I would have cut him out entirely though. Most of his scenes are to build up some tension as we know what a bad guy he is and then he finds a kid unattended. The film knows exactly what it’s doing with all the long drawn out shots with these two characters and it definitely needed to tread carefully.

I have to say if anything happened to the kid the film was going to lose major stars because it’s just such an unnecessarily dark avenue to go down. It’s no exaggeration to say that the film avoided utter disaster by not having things go badly there. Still, there’s no reason to have Garland around so I would have definitely cut him off the team.

As for the other humans, well you’ve got Duncan who handled everything really badly. The guy is an agent who was sent on board to try and get some intel out of one of the prisoners. The whole idea was extremely suspect from the start though and it’s hard to picture it working. Still, the guy has a gun so he should be ready but he takes it out immediately and then panics. Look, in this situation where you’re effectively surrounded you have to use the gun if you take it out. There’s no time to play chicken or talk tough with the villains.

This guy didn’t feel very professional. Vince is his boss and that guy’s pretty entertaining. He’s certainly very eager to always blow stuff up but I suppose that strategy has worked out well for him thus far. He gets into a lot of arguments with Mike on how to handle things so expect a lot of banter there. Those are some of the more enjoyable parts of the movie though so it was good to see them. Neither one of them were particularly impressive though and didn’t help much.

Cameron’s really on his own here no matter how you slice it. The film has a lot of solid action and get ready for a ton of explosions. You’ll be feeling bad for the army the whole time though as it seems like they really can’t catch a break here. The villains are blowing up their cars left and right. I like to think that proper military strategy is never this awful in real life because in films it makes the strategist look awful.

The military literally walks in a straight line to where the villains are. Naturally they keep getting blown up and picked off. Surely someone would have said that this was a bad idea right? So it’s not a case of the villains looking smart but the heroes just looking terrible. There has to be a better way to assault a heavily armed villain base than to walk in a straight line like that.

Overall, Con Air is definitely an intense film. It’s got a good hero and good writing to keep it on the positive path. It would have been nice if the villains weren’t all so edgy the whole time though. The only decent one appeared to be Mike. Now, this is a bunch of max prison offenders so of course they would be the worst of the worst but it’d be nice if they at least acted normal at times. Instead you just keep agreeing with Cameron’s one liners about how this was an awful plan from the start. Once he gets on the plane there aren’t really many times for breaks so get ready for a whole lot of action scenes. If you want a pretty entertaining film about hijacking then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

Face/Off Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the movie. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Face/Off is definitely one of the more intense action thrillers I’ve seen in quite a while. Everything really just keeps happening nonstop as we get many different gunfights and the body count is massive. Prepare yourself for an explosive time here as both of the main characters definitely will not be holding back this time around. It definitely has its share of slip ups but I will say this for the film, it does deliver on a lot of hype.

The movie starts with Castor attempting to assassinate Sean Archer, an agent of special forces. Unfortunately instead he ends up hitting Sean’s son. Castor decides to leave at that point although I was surprised he didn’t just take a second shot. We cut to 6 years later where Archer has finally tracked Castor down and defeats him after a big fight scene. The issue is that he has already planted a big bomb in the city that could destroy thousands. The only way to find out the truth is for Sean to go undercover using Castor’s face. There is a surgical operation that allows a person to swap faces with another and it’s actually a reversible process so supposedly there is no risk. Sean must now enter a top security max prison in order to find out about the bomb but meanwhile Castor wakes up and steals Sean’s face. With both people assuming the other’s identity, a game of cat and mouse begins.

When I say this film is nonstop action that’s almost an understatement. The amount of explosions here is absolutely crazy with both characters going at it over and over again. The movie has great music to accompany the fights and the slow-mo can be pretty fun with the jumping gun shots. Gunfights can get quite stylistic when you do them right and this crew definitely knows how to handle them. The standout fight for me may actually be the very first one at the airport though although there’s a lot of high quality ones.

You’ll notice right away that this film has quite the body count though. Characters are being blown to shreds left and right. If you’re a supporting character or even a main one you are absolutely not safe here. There were a few characters that died rather unexpectedly if you ask me. I’d point to at least a certain hospital scene for that where there were two characters that I thought were going to make it out of this. Then if you’re any kind of nameless grunt trying to get into the action that’s game over. Some characters are almost literally minding their own business but just get shot anyway while the characters are fighting. By the ending, while it’s an uplifting one, there’s a bitter sweet element to it since Castor manages to take out so many people. Even Sean is forced to take out a bunch while he is undercover since he needed to get out alive.

The movie goes out of its way to make Castor as unlikable and irredeemable as possible though. In his very first scene he makes it abundantly clear that he is absolutely crazy and this never lets up. It does get to the point where he begins to hold the film back though. He has so many bad scenes that you’ll lose count. You’re supposed to dislike the character of course but I think the movie could have shown a bit more restraint with him.

Meanwhile Sean is a good character. He is put in a very tough situation most of the time though. Things are not easy on him for over half the film. I have to say that I definitely wouldn’t have agreed with his decision to swap faces in the first place but at least he was doing it for the right reasons. The rest of the film is him just having to deal with the consequences of that. He’s a good guy and even ends up helping out with someone else’s kid who would have been in a tough spot without him. His instincts as a parent kicked in quick and I definitely had no qualms with him as the lead.

This film can definitely be very violent at times. It’s certainly an old school thriller in that sense with people being shot dead left and right. You’ve also got the face operations of course which are gruesome almost by definition. The whole process looks crazy painful and even just imagining how someone would look without a face is not a pleasant sight. As for the constant explosions, I will admit that they almost get funny after a point. At the very least it’s hard not to laugh near the end when the two characters are lighting the city on fire because of how over the top it is. The same fight scene is extended multiple times so that the fight gets restarted each and every time you think it’s about to be over. Definitely, a good way to keep you guessing on when it’ll actually end though.

Face/Off has some decent humor scenes though. I liked when the scientist got summoned to Castor at the hospital and still had the guts to ask what he wanted. It was rather obvious as Castor pointed out so it’s not the kind of thing you’d usually have to ask twice about. I guess he was stressed out which is why he didn’t put 2 and 2 together though. There’s other funny moments like that as well and it helps the film keep a light tone even with how violent and dark other aspects of it could be.

I also liked the scenes when Castor and Sean would face off. There was a lot of pretty intense battles between them with strong dialogue and generally hype scenes. Likewise at the very end of the film we also get a really good standoff between a bunch of the characters. I always like standoff moments like that. They’re quite tense and test out how quick on the draw you are.

The thing is, Castor gets away with a ton in this film. While he’s masquerading as Sean, he gets to abuse his power quite a lot. That’s not even getting to the fact that he was with Sean’s wife for a while and that whole plot-line’s just not pleasant even if you don’t really see anything. The idea of two guys getting to switch their lives in a thriller context is definitely a unique one and this film really tried to make the most of it, but ultimately it just made too many mistakes for me to say it’s a good title.

Overall, Face/Off is a very long film and you can feel the length. That said, unlike some films that are this long, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing. On one hand, usually you want a long film to feel short because it means that the film really breezed by, but on the other hand, I think you can appreciate just how much this film was able to accomplish in its run-time. The movie was able to really delve into this plot and the various ramifications of it a lot more than it ever could have done so in around 90 minutes. Really if the film would have laid off of the violence and heavily toned down Castor’s character, I think everything would have worked out really nicely. It’s not like it would be a perfect film but those two changes would have made a world of difference. Castor ultimately just goes way too far so you aren’t able to enjoy pretty much any scene where it’s just him so he holds the whole thing back.

Overall 4/10

Next Review


It’s time to take a look at a thriller from the not too distant past. This is one of those films that I figured I would have heard about, but I don’t recall ever seeing anything about it before watching the movie recently. It’s got a pretty cool premise and I liked the story but some parts definitely didn’t mesh as well as they could have. The ending for example was nearly perfect if it had just cut out a few minutes earlier.

The FBI has grown desperate since the Russians are preparing to nuke the U.S. They stole some nukes a while back and the FBI wasn’t told about it for around 2 weeks. Now they know that the timer is close to 0 but they have dug up no leads. Special agent Ferris has some ideas though. She’s been tracking a psychic named Cris who has the ability to see into the future. She plans to have him uncover the Russian plot. Meanwhile Cris has been doing his best to lead a normal life. He’s learned some magic tricks and makes a steady income. Unfortunately since he can see 15 minutes into the future he’s always getting into a lot of trouble as he stops people from shooting everyone up, but has no proof.

Why hasn’t Cris just skipped town? Well, he’s been having dreams about meeting someone named Liz at a certain cafe. The reason why this is important is because as I mentioned he can typically only see 15 minutes into the future and it has to directly be relevant to him. Why is he able to see weeks in advance when it comes to her? Cris isn’t sure, but he feels like it is destiny and decides to wait for her. This increases the stakes though and can he possibly convince her of their destiny before she calls the FBI in on him?

Being able to see 15 minutes in advance is just as overpowered as you would expect it to be. It’s hard for anyone to stop Cris because he’s already played this out in his head. To me it seems like the ability is always on and he just keeps auto jumping back whenever he dies or gets into a corner. It makes for a lot of fun visuals where you’ll be enjoying the movie and suddenly an old scene pops in with no transition. You just know that he’s gone back 15 minutes. Technically it isn’t time travel as it was just a vision but since it’s basically always activated it sure feels that way sometimes. A cool scene is when he uses this to evade bullets and actually close in on a gunman. There’s just no way you can lose when you see this far in advance.

That being said, I wouldn’t call Cris a great character. His romance with Liz is handled pretty poorly. Naturally the do-over attempts are pretty manipulative here as he just keeps re-rolling his answers like in a gatcha game until he gets the ones that he wants. He claims with Liz that he doesn’t use his abilities with her, but we know for a fact that he does, both in the cafe scene at the beginning and a scene near the end of the film. Since the ability seems to be automatically activated I don’t think he could totally turn it off even if he wants to. The film is a little unclear on that but that’s how my interpretation of it works at any rate. He knows Liz for as few hours and is sold. Sure, he’s been seeing her every night for ages but from her point of view this is some random stranger who says a lot of odd things and is always staring at her. How would she turn this into a proper romance? She definitely gets super comfortable around him pretty quick and considering that she just dumped someone, a period of time without rebounding would make sense.

So the romance here is just weak. Liz is a decent character otherwise as at least she doesn’t get suckered too easily. Going into a car with someone who claims to be an officer is never a good idea though. I don’t care if they show you the badge, you don’t get into the car the way that she did. That’s always a big mistake. Meanwhile the main FBI agent is Farris and she is definitely convinced that Cris can help. I don’t think that she thought her plan over very well though. She figures out that he can only see 15 minutes into the future so how is that going to help? Her plan is to have him watch the news until the bomb is mentioned so they know where to go, but 15 minutes isn’t a whole lot of time. Depending on where in the city the bomb is there is no way they’d make it in time. His power just doesn’t matter in any meaningful way. So her boss was actually right in not hedging their bets on Cris even if his methods didn’t work either. 15 minutes isn’t enough time to find and deactivate a bomb. It’s just not happening, especially not when the villains have a lot of other bombs and guns at the ready.

The best part of the film is definitely the various action scenes. The climax is particularly solid and we get to see Cris really go all in with his pre-cog abilities. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen and having infinite live to do it with is just cool. I also like how they introduced his abilities at the beginning with how he evaded everyone at the casino. You will feel bad for the informant though as things never go well for him. Next has a really solid soundtrack as well to go along with the cool visuals. The film’s just a lot of fun and the quick moving plot works well here. There’s always something happening.

It may not be a film that will win any awards, but there’s a lot to like here. Really if you just take out the romance and fix the ending then I dare say that you might even have a great ending here. I won’t go into detail on the ending because there really isn’t any way to say it without spoilers so I’ll just say that cutting out a few minutes earlier would have been amazing. When you watch the film you’ll know exactly what I mean. It definitely would have been unexpected, but still pretty satisfying in its own way. It also works within the limits of the ability without stretching things to the max. The ending that we do get just isn’t as satisfying. Meanwhile the villains really don’t get to do much at all. You’ll forget that they exist at times because of how little presence they have here. They’re not bad, but they almost feel superfluous.

Overall, Next is definitely a very unique film. On the surface it’s your average thriller, but the time ability definitely throws a nice wrinkle in there. Since Cris should be invincible there are still some moments where you might have to suspend some disbelief, but at the same time maybe he just wanted to go down this route because the other futures he visited were worse. The ending also is a potential plot hole if you ask me. You can reasonably make sense of it, but I just feel like it’s a little beyond the scope of ability shown til now. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then you should go ahead and give it a watch. It’s pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

The Rock Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. Keep this in mind when reading the review as one for the unedited version would be far more negative.

It’s time for a retro action film from the 90s. Sure, it may not be that old and calling the 90s retro is a little risky, but at this point I’d say that it’s old enough to be a valid point. You won’t really see this kind of film come out nowadays because the cinematography is just very different and new styles have surfaced. These 1-2 men against an army films can always be a lot of fun though and this one is handled well. I do admit that the first half does beat the second as the film begins to putter out but both halves are still pretty good. It’s more the fact that the film is so long and climax fatigue starts to set in while the first half is more laid back, but still has the explosions you’re waiting for. This is a Michael Bay film so there are quite a lot of explosions.

The film starts off with a bunch of terrorists breaking into Alcatraz and kidnapping 81 civilians. They demand 100 million from the government or they’ll use the chemical missiles that they stole from another base (Where they murdered everybody) to destroy 80000 people in San Francisco. The government is forced to call in the local chemical expert, Goodspeed. Goodspeed is used to being in a lab and doesn’t really like violence but he isn’t really given an option. He won’t be enough though so Mr. Mason is taken out of jail to help out. Mason is the only person to ever escape Alcatraz and he used to be a legendary agent for the British Intelligence. If anyone can stop these guys, he can. Will these two vastly different characters be able to put aside their differences and save the world or are they doomed to take a loss here?

Right away one thing you’ll notice about the film is that the soundtrack is actually really great. The themes are nice and fast which make the action scenes more fun. It amplifies the visuals and just makes the whole adventure feel a lot more complete. The visuals are also pretty good for the various locales and the combo works pretty well. Since a lot of films don’t really bother having a soundtrack I always feel the need to give a shoutout to the ones that actually pull it off. It’s an important thing to have.

Goodspeed is a decently good main character. He panics quite a lot but he’s never really been a field agent so it’s all pretty new to him. He still wants to do his best to stop the villains and save lives. He never really waffles on this and stays true to the goal. He fights when necessary as well and doesn’t bck down. He also tends to be a nice guy as he doesn’t put Mason on the spot in front of his daughter. He’s a quality lead. Fortunately, our other lead is also good. Mason’s the expert of the film. He’s one of the best hand to hand fighters the army has got and he’s also really good with a gun. This combo definitely makes him very lethal to everyone else. Anything can be turned into a weapon with this guy. He’s certainly not heroic the way Goodspeed is though. After the government locked him up for 30 years the guy appears to have gotten jaded with life in general. He just wants to make sure he gets out of this in one piece. The guy certainly has good reason to be upset at everyone though as he did get a pretty bad deal. No trial and everyone keeps on lying to him. Still, he has to man up in the end to save his daughter so he presses on. The ending may not be extremely happy for him, but it’s happy enough I suppose.

The villains try to go for the sympathetic angle, at least the main one. He wants the families of the fallen Marines to get recompensated since the government ignored them and figures this is the best way to do it. The thing is, he hired a bunch of guys he has never worked with before and they’re a little more villainous than the others. They just want to murder a bunch of guys and don’t care for anything but the money. Teaming up with villains never pays off in the end. It’s just a good way to speed up your ultimate demise.

I can’t really say that the romance was all that good, but to be fair it was barely a factor in the movie. It was relegated to the backseat for the entirety of the film. It was just there to give the main character more incentive to save the city. It’s not like he needed much more at this point since the city was nearly toast, but it’s not as if it’s a bad thing. The main heroine seemed like a reasonable character.

The first half of the film with the car chase was handled pretty well. The cops look a little bad as they really made it very easy for Mason to escape. Still, it was a good blend of action and humor. Goodspeed certainly gives us a lot of great facial expressions the entire time. The film really speeds by until everyone dies and it’s just the main two. That’s where the pacing finally starts to slow a bit as the characters keep rethinking what they should do next. It’s also one of the only points without a lot of constant explosions. Still, it’s not as if this lasts for long and then the action starts up again.

As far as the writing is concerned, I’d say that it’s okay. Naturally the TV version fixed up some of the language so that significantly improved the script. That gives the writing a little help even if it is still there. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not bad either. It’s at a good enough level where it doesn’t distract from what’s on screen so then you can focus on the fights. This whole review really just boils down to one point, this is a solid and explosive action film. What you see is what you get here. There’s no animal violence, the violence in the fights isn’t excessive, things just move very quickly. You move from fight to fight and they’re all handled well.

The government is extremely shady as always, but to the point where it is comical. I always love seeing the government act shady while I also love seeing them look good in films. I’m fine with it either way. The film even has a bit of a stinger involving a certain assasination that everyone loves to use in conspiracy stories. It was a nice enough subplot and I wouldn’t mind a sequel where the government ends up going to court and then things get crazy.

Overall, The Rock is definitely a really solid action movie. The fight scenes are on point and there is an explosion around every corner. The film may have slightly dragged by the end but it’s hard to point to any specific scenes that could have been cut. There may be a few here and there, but it’s just that the overall length of the film is rather long. It’s still handled well at the end of the day. The main message of this film is that you have to be a good shot because if you miss the first few times, you may not get a second shot. I’d recommend giving this film a watch if you see it on TV. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10