I would have loved to be there at the pitch meeting for “Con Air.” Take “Die Hard,” make the villain John Malkovich and make its two heroes once popular eighties stars, and you have yourself what is a tonally uneven but pretty solid action movie all around. Star Nicolas Cage does double duty camp as hero Cameron Poe, an army ranger who accidentally murders a man while attempting to defend his wife one night at a bar. For some reason this qualifies him to travel on a transport flight to a new prison alongside some of the worst criminals in the world (?). This includes rapists, cannibals, child molesters, and vicious serial killer Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, as played by John Malkovich.
America never did John Woo any favors, did it? The man who gave us “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled” now offers us a movie where American stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage seem to be competing to see who is a worse actor. I guess when you’re working alongside Cage, though, you either have to be as awful as he is, or else risk causing some kind of black hole. Either way, for a man who has such a skill for delivering breakneck action films, “Face/Off” is that movie so moronic, you can’t even excuse it as science fiction. It’s kind of that movie you just accepted in 1997 mainly because Cage and Travolta joining forces was a little better than when Travolta met Christian Slater in “Broken Arrow.”
How do you take one of the more unique race car films from the seventies and destroy it? Remake it with a bland story, add a very adult cast of Nic Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Vinnie Jones, and slap a PG-13 rating on it. Also, turn it in to a lame ass action comedy, for extra insult to injury. “Gone in Sixty Seconds” from 2000 is an uneven and fairly tedious action comedy that has all the edge of a crime thriller, except it’s suitable for teenagers, a crowd that will appreciate director Dominic Sena’s insistence on imitating Michael Bay.