Con Air

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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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.

Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) loves his wife. Just ask the drunk he killed in the course of defending said wife Tricia Poe (Monica Potter) 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.

Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (John Malkovich) is about to learn this. He doesn't know Poe from Adam, but he is about to hijack the prisoner transport plane that is going to take Poe home to see his family. He is about to learn two very hard lessons...

Don't mess with Cameron Poe.

And never, ever threaten the bunny.

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

Tropes used in Con Air include:
  • Affably Evil: Swamp Thing.
  • 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 crashes)


Cameron Poe: "What do you think I'm gonna do? I'm gonna save the fuckin' day."

  • Black Best Friend: Baby-O.
  • Blown Across the Room: Averted. Poe doesn't even blink when he takes a shot to the shoulder, let alone fly backwards.
  • Brick Joke: 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 Vegas.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Cyrus told Larkin (via radio) that the undercover agent 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. Probably for the best.
  • Bury Your Gays: Subverted. Sally-Can't-Dance is one of the few survivors.
    • But he was the first to get re-arrested.
  • Camp Gay: Sally Can't Dance.
  • Car Cushion: Pinball falls from the plane onto a moving car.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Speech: 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.
  • Contrived Coincidence: 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 Black 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...
    • Lampshaded in the page quote.
  • Cool Car

Malloy: "Sunsets are beautiful. Newborn babies are beautiful. This, this is fucking spectacular."


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.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The film begins with a montage about the US Army Rangers.
  • Freudian Slip

Pinball: "I work for the Department of Erec... Corrections".

  • 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 it means going home to his family alive.
  • 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. Granted, without that serious misstep in judgment the movie would not happen but that is the result of someone grabbing the Idiot Ball.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Nobody gives a flying fuck! Get it?! FLYING fuck?!"
  • 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.
    • It's heavily implied that he murdered one of the guards, and that doing so made him "feel better".
  • Inspector Javert: Malloy has trouble believing Poe (or any convict) is good.
  • Irony: 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.
  • Jerkass: Agent Malloy.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham/World of Ham: Everyone. Cage is in good company here.
  • The Last Thing Your Daughter Smells: You know what? That makes Poe mad.
  • 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.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Cameron Poe doesn't break stride even when one of the other convicts shoots his shoulder.
  • Meaningful Name: Johnny 23, so named because he was convicted of 23 counts of rape. He claimed to raped more than 23 women, though.
  • Name Face Mismatch Poster
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Cyrus the Virus.
  • Nice Guy: Cameron Poe.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Cameron Poe is an awesome Rambo Jesus that way.
  • Pet Homosexual: Sally Can't Dance.
  • Planning with Props: Cyrus demonstrates the plan to surround the police convoy using soda cans, engine parts and debris.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: Cyrus the Virus towards Pinball & Baby-O.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Cy..." "...onara!"
  • The Precious Precious Car: Malloy's car.
  • Prison Ship
  • Punctuated Pounding: "You don't... treat... women... like...that!"
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: 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."

  • Rasputinian Death: The ultimate fate of Cyrus the Virus. Wait - I think he just twitched...
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lampshaded by Poe when the airplane tows a car through the air. "On any other day, that might seem strange."
    • For unknown reasons this was changed in the German version to "Funny that's exactly my type of car." Still fits, but makes one wonder why they changed it?
  • Revenge by Proxy: Billy Bedlam's revenge on his cheating wife.

Larkin: 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.

  • Scary Black Man: Diamond Dog. Strangely, he's one of the most well-spoken characters in the entire movie, and wrote a best-selling book.
    • 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: "Do Not Open" really means do not open.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: John Cusack's Marshal Vince Larkin is a Trope Codifier.

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.


Malloy: "Of course you can't reach [Larkin]! He's probably off saving the rainforests, or recycling his sandals or some shit!"


"All they'll have to worry about is stale peanuts and a little turbulence."


Cyrus: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air!"

  • Too Dumb to Live: A prison guard and his superior are left to guard Cyrus's prison cell, with clear orders from Larkin not to touch anything in the hidden compartment they just helped uncover. They proceed ignore him completely, grabbing a box in the compartment and opening it despite the words "DO NOT OPEN" written across the top. They are ordered by Larkin not to The Captain goes to fetch the bomb squad, ordering the prison guard to not open the box. Boom.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Sally Can't Dance acts much more like a transwoman than a gay man, but is treated as such by the rest of the cast and apparently the editors of this very wiki.
  • Unflinching Walk: Played with. The cons are walking away from an burning plane, only to jump when it actually explodes... except, of course, Cyrus. Later in the film, Poe walks towards a gun-toting con after the plane crashes and is on fire, taking a bullet in the shoulder without pausing.
  • Up to Eleven: Everyone's story, but especially Garland Greene. You can't just have a Hannibal-like psychopath, he has to have "driven through three states wearing a girl's head as a hat."
  • Vanity License Plate: AZZ-KIKR.
  • 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
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Larkin's boss not only disappears three quarters of the way through the film, he disappears in the middle of a scene. Right after he, Malloy, and Larkin overlook the damage done to Malloy's car, only Malloy and Larkin are seen running back to the choppers. You might think he just wasn't in the shot, but he's never seen again after that.
    • Sort of happens with Johnny 23. Poe knocks him out and chains him to the ceiling, but no one calls attention to it once they get back on the plane. He isn't brought up again until the police find his corpse, still chained to that spot (part of it, anyway).
  • Wife-Basher Basher: See Even Evil Has Standards. Though subverted in that Cyrus is more than willing to strike said officer himself to escape the plane.
    • Cyrus was only opposed to raping said woman, striking or even killing her might have been completely okay for him.
    • Played completely straight with Nice Guy Cameron Poe when he catches Johnny trying to do just that. See Punctuated Pounding, wherein he slams the bastard's head repeatedly into a bulkhead while teaching him Chivalry 101.