Con Air

  • Review Date: July 27, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A schmaltzy action-adventure at 8,000 feet.
  • Review Date: July 27, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 115 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The plane is full of antisocial and sociopathic criminals who act in accordance; one stereotypically gay inmate; a lot of disrespect for authority.


An inmate threatens then attempts to rape a female guard; several people are shot to death; an arm is severed from a body; a body is thrown from the plane.

Not applicable

The "n" word is used several times; crude terms for a woman's vagina are used to belittle men; general swearing.


The end is an ad for Las Vegas.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some smoking and drinking, but not by the main character.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that one character, a convicted rapist, threatens to rape a female guard and later attempts it. The film implies that a mass murderer killed a little girl (later, we find out he didn't). Characters graphically describe murders and rapes they have committed; many kill again, on screen and gruesomely.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) goes to prison for killing a man during a light-night brawl outside the bar where his pregnant wife works. When Poe gets paroled seven years later, his plane is hijacked by criminally insane mastermind Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and black separatist Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames). It's up to Poe to save the day.

Is it any good?


There's no moral to the story of CON AIR. While the acting is great (Dave Chapelle plays a particularly gregarious felon), there's nothing to sink your teeth into. But that will be fine for most teens. This is typical blockbuster fare: The good guys and bad guys are clear from the beginning. Poe is a stand-up guy loyal to his good friend Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson) and the honor of guard Sally Bishop (Rachel Ticotin). The bad guys are everywhere and seem to have no end of devious plans. There are car crashes, massive explosions, pithy one-liners ("Why couldn't you put the bunny back in the box?" Poe deadpans after impaling a convict in the cargo hold), even a dead body flying onto the roof of an unsuspecting Volvo.

Con Air delivers the goods with good-natured jokes and oddly non-threatening psychopaths (Steve Bushemi plays a creepy serial killer who psychoanalyzes his fellow convicts and has a disturbing tea party with a little girl in a trailer park). But if Con Air is a typical blockbuster, then it suffers from the typical potholes of the genre. Poe supposedly goes to jail for killing a man to defend his wife's honor, and he continues the theme by protecting and saving guard Bishop. While standing up for women is admirable, it sends the wrong message to both boys and girls who watch that women need to be saved. One could argue, rather, that Poe went to jail to defend his masculinity, not his bride --- a worthy topic for families to discuss after viewing. The film also suffers from too much blood. People are tortured and killed with zeal, and no one seems to suffer a poor conscience after the murders. Only Poe seems spooked. The film makes death seem as simple as if the characters were playing a video game -- a dangerous message to send.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why movies like Con Air make murder seem so easy. Why don't any of the characters seem affected by the murders they've just committed? Families may also want to discuss why the film depicts the felons as dangerous but also loveable. Families may also want to discuss Poe's heroics. Do women need to be saved? How do men in your family show they love women? Did Poe defend his wife's honor by fighting those men, or was he really defending his masculinity?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 6, 1997
DVD release date:September 7, 2004
Cast:John Cusack, John Malkovich, Nicolas Cage
Director:Simon West
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence and language

This review of Con Air was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byJustino4 October 12, 2011

Only for Mature Teens +

Very good action crime thriller. Only for mature teens+.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byLoveOwenWilson September 10, 2010

just for adults (as in over 18)

Personally i love it because i love John Cusack! he's sooo adorable!! but the movie is about escaped prisoners and i's very bad. not at all appropriate for people my age. i watched the censored version on my cable channel.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Cool action/thriller movie

This was a great movie! There was an interesting story line and great action sequnces. The action is very violent and there is some strong language though. There also is some racism.


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