Con Air is a 1997 American action film directed by Simon West and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of The Rock. It stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Colm Meaney and John Malkovich. The film borrows its title from the nickname of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System. While scanning a newspaper article, Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg first learned of the special program, then visited its Oklahoma City base "to get an eyewitness perspective of the incredible operation, which quickly formed the genesis for Con Air."
Former Army Ranger Cameron Poe is sentenced to 7–10 years in prison for using excessive force on a drunk man while trying to protect his wife Tricia. Poe meets parole 8 years later, and is to be released after being flown to Alabama on the Jailbird, a C-123K transport prison plane, along with several other prisoners including his diabetic cellmate and friend Mike "Baby-O" O'Dell for transfer to a new Supermax prison. The transfer is being overseen by U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin, as the transfer includes notorious criminal mastermind Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom. Larkin is approached at the last minute by DEA agent Duncan Malloy and his agent Willie Sims, who ask for Sims to be brought aboard disguised as a prisoner so that he can extract more information from drug lord Francisco Cindino, a prisoner that is to be picked up at Carson City, Nevada en route. Larkin agrees, unaware Malloy has hidden a gun on Sims' body.
As the Jailbird takes off, another prisoner Joe "Pinball" Parker incites a riot, giving the opportunity for Grissom to get free. Sims attempts to ward Grissom off but is killed, allowing Grissom to seize the gun and take control of the plane. Poe feigns cooperation with the other prisoners as they prepare to offload guards disguised as prisoners at Carson City; Poe is able to sneak a recording device Sims had onto one of the guards. As the transfer proceeds, Parker takes the plane's transponder and plants on a small sightseeing aircraft. The plane takes off before the recording device can be found, but Larkin and Malloy are alerted to the situation. Malloy chases off after the transponder, while Larkin discovers information in Grissom's cell that indicates this escape attempt has been planned with Cindino. On the plane, Grissom reveals that they will be going to the small Lerner Airfield where Cindino has arranged passage for them all to a non-extradition country. Poe finds Parker's body stuck in the landing gear of the plane, the convict not having made it back in time, and secretly writes a message to Larkin about Lerner Airfield before pushing it out of the plane. The body lands in the middle of Fresno, California, and Larkin is alerted, ordering the National Guard there while he drives there himself in Malloy's sportscar.
At Lerner, the plane overruns the small runway. There is no immediate sign of Cindino's plane and Grissom orders the prisoners to start to dig out the Jailbird. Poe uses the time to locate insulin shots for O'Dell, and happens upon Larkin. The two brief each other on the situation before Poe has to return before suspicion is raised. Larkin encounters Cindino with his agents preparing a small jet for departure and is able to sabotage it on takeoff. Grissom realizes Cindino had tricked him and kills him, and then spots the approaching National Guard. The prisoners prepare to massacre the troops in a plane graveyard, but Larkin is able to save most of the troops using a bulldozer as a bullet shield, forcing the prisoners to retreat to the plane and prepare for take-off. Poe, after giving O'Dell his shots, tries to escape with him and a female guard who had been protecting herself from a serial rapist aboard, but the plane has taken off by the time they are ready.
Poe's true identity is revealed when of the prisoners goes through his personal possessions, identifying him as a former Ranger and a parolee. As Grissom is about to kill Poe, Malloy arrives with assault aircraft and fire upon the plane, damaging its engines. Grissom's pilot is forced to crash land the plane in the only open paved surface nearby, The Las Vegas Strip. The plane causes a great deal of destruction as it skids to a stop on the road, creating a mass of chaos that allows Grissom and two other prisoners the opportunity to escape on a fire truck while the police recapture the other prisoners. Poe and Larkin team up to chase down the three, eventually killing them through the high-speed chase. Poe thanks Larkin and tells him he is now someone whom he can trust, and then goes to reunite with Tricia and his daughter whom he has never seen before.
- Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe
- John Cusack as U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
- John Malkovich as Cyrus Grissom (known as "Cyrus the Virus")
- Steve Buscemi as Garland Greene (known as "The Marietta Mangler")
- Ving Rhames as Nathan Jones (known as "Diamond Dog")
- Nick Chinlund as William Bedford (known as "Billy Bedlam")
- Rachel Ticotin as Guard Sally Bishop
- Colm Meaney as DEA Agent Duncan Malloy
- M. C. Gainey as "Swamp Thing"
- Brendan Kelly as Conrad
- Mykelti Williamson as Mike O'Dell (known as "Baby-O")
- Renoly Santiago as Ramon Martinez (known as "Sally Can't Dance"), credited as "Renoly"
- Danny Trejo as Johnny Baca (known as "Johnny-23")
- Jesse Borrego as Francisco Cindino
- Dave Chappelle as Joe Parker (known as "Pinball"), credited as "David Chappelle"
- John Marshall Jones as "Gator"
- Steve Eastin as Guard Falzon
- José Zúñiga as DEA Agent Willie Sims
- Kevin Gage as Billy Joe (Uncredited)
- Jeris Lee Poindexter as convict on plane
- Monica Potter as Tricia Poe
- Landry Allbright as Casey Poe
- Mike Howell as Rim Feagles
- Don S. Davis as Man driving Volvo
- Dabbs Greer as Old Man under Truck
- Chris Ellis as Grant