Directed by Simon West
Written by Scott Rosenberg
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Colm Meaney, Mykelti Williamson, Ving Rhames
Cameron Poe (Cage) is a former Army Ranger and ex-convict. He’s headed home on a transport plane loaded with felons headed to prison. When the plane is taken over, Poe finds himself trapped and looking for a way out. As the soldier within Poe awakens, he also tries to prevent Cyrus Grissom (Malkovich) from escaping with his team of violent criminals.
This 1997 action thriller was written by Scott Rosenberg (High Fidelity) and directed by Simon West (The General’s Daughter). The cast features a long list of big names beginning with John Malkovich (Red), Nicolas Cage (Face/Off), and John Cusack (Eight Men Out). The film also includes Steve Buscemi (The Big Lebowski), Colm Meaney (The Conspirator), Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump), and Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction).
This story is one of those action thrillers written so that a director would have a reason to blow things up. Scott Rosenberg did a good job putting together a story that allows for all the explosions you can handle. Like most action movies in the 90s, this one has dialogue that’s cheesy and over-the-top. Like most of those movies it works because it’s expected. The story has a million plot holes, but it’s an entertaining and wild ride that features some nice moments along the way. It’s not an award winner, but it’s fun.
The acting in this movie exists on the same level as the story. The action is the biggest star, and the actors all find small moments to shine. Cage, Malkovich, and Cusack seem to lead the way, playing the three leads in this unique story. Cage does a good job with the action in the film, but his accent is rough. It’s unfortunate that he was asked to do a Southern accent since it really doesn’t play into the story at all. Malkovich is just great in his role. I love seeing him as a villain, and this is a natural part for him.
John Cusack also does a good job with a role that feels written for him. The rest of the cast also have some nice moments, but nothing that really stands out. There is one more highlight though. Steve Buscemi is a wonderful addition to this film. His character comes out as creepy, sadistic, and slightly off-center. All of this is just what I was hoping for from his role. As a whole, the acting is solid but doesn’t do anything special.
The visuals in this film include the aforementioned explosions, fight scenes, gun fights, crashes, and other elements of the action genre. These scenes are all over-the-top, but they’re fun and they fit the tone of the film. The camera work and other production elements all seem to fit in with the style of the movie, making this a fun action thriller. The film was nominated for two Oscars, one of them being for Best Sound. The second nomination was for Best Original Song for “How Do I Live” by Diane Warren. The song is a strange element of a movie that seems more likely to include heavy metal than a soft love-filled ballad. Oh well, it’s still a fun movie that will entertain most action fans.
I would definitely recommend this to fans of Cage, Cusack, Malkovich, or Buscemi. I would also suggest this one to action fans, especially those looking for something with a unique premise. I give this one 2.6 out of 5 stars.