July 2431, 1997
Most everything about this movie, produced by action-meister Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by TV commercial veteran Simon West, is loud. The cranked-up sounds of plane engines, guitars, howling winds, indelicate one-liners, explosions, grunts, gunfire, kick-fighting, rainstorms and bones breaking are repeatedly overlaid in an exquisitely brutal cacaphony. Alongside such noisiness, the plot is superfluous. Taut, scruffy-faced and nimble in his fight scenes, Nicolas Cage is an ex-Army ranger, paroled after serving time for manslaughter, who catches a ride home on an air prison transport filled with irredeemable monsters, including John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi (as a contemplative serial killer, patterned loosely after Hannibal Lecter), who hijack the plane and crash into Las Vegas. John Cusack is an agile U.S. marshall, Colm Meaney is a corrupt DEA agent (the phrase being pretty much redundant in this context) and Rachel Ticotin is a guard on board, relegated to the status of rape-bait once the cons take over, so that Cage can be noble and clever in her defense. Despite the glut of strong performers, the thing never gets past its cumbersome, detonate-everything high concept.