by Victoria Large
Big-budget action movies tend to be among my most glaring blind spots, and I recall being uninterested in Con Air when it made its debut fifteen years ago, and remaining so for many years hence. But when Cambridge’s Brattle Theatre included the film as part of its (oddly spellbinding) Nicolas Cage retrospective this summer, a friend of mine insisted on us going to see it, and I ended up enjoying some of the most fun that I had at the movies all year. Yes, the film is loud, clumsy, dumb, and insensitive, and its thesis is, essentially, that smashing stuff up is awesome. But it also has a cracking cast who chew the scenery with amusing abandon, and its absurdity is actually pretty intoxicating, particularly in a packed theater. Regardless of how seriously you take the film, Con Air’s greatest assets are its goofy one-liners and its wanton property destruction, and really just its overall eagerness to induce fist-pumping cheers. My favorite moment of the screening came when a projection gaffe led us to see the same car get crushed twice, with an even louder chorus of whoops erupting the second time around. It’s just that kind of movie.