Con Air

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The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.
Wyndham Lewis
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In this 1997 film, a U.S. Marshals Service plane transporting prisoners to a new "Super Max" prison is taken over by the inmates, trapping a paroled former Army Ranger on board.

Directed by Simon West. Written by Scott Rosenberg
Starring Nicholas Cage, John Malkovich, and John Cusack.

Cameron Poe

  • "They somehow managed to get every freak and creep in the universe on this one plane, and then somehow managed to let them take it over, and then they somehow managed to stick us right smack in the middle."
  • "Now, what would my daughter think of me if I left you to be dishonored and die?"
  • "Put the bunny back in the box."
  • "Now why couldn't you put the bunny back in the box?"
  • "There's only two men I trust. One of 'em's me, and the other's not you."
  • "If this thing goes bad, Larkin, I'm afraid my daughter won't understand. If you talk to my wife again, you tell her I love her... she's my hummingbird. I just couldn't leave a fallen man behind."
  • "What do you think I'm gonna do? I'm gonna save the fuckin' day."
  • "Well, Baby O, it's not exactly mai-tais and Yahtzee out here — but let's do it."
  • "Just so's you know, Marshal Larkin, there's now three men I trust."
  • [while slamming Johnny 23's head into a cage repeatedly] "Don't treat women like that!"
  • "on any other day that might seem strange" after seening the corvette attached to the plane

Garland Green

  • "One girl... I drove through three states wearing her head as a hat."
  • "What if I told you 'insane' was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?"
  • "He's a font of misplaced rage. Name your cliche: Mother held him too much or not enough, last picked at kickball, late-night sneaky uncle, whatever. Now he's so angry, moments of levity actually cause him pain... give him headaches. Happiness, for that gentleman, hurts."
  • "Define 'irony': a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane, to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash." [referring to Lynyrd Skynyrd ]
  • There's no medicine for what I have.

Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom

  • "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air."
  • " You know, the next time you choose a human shield, you're better off not picking a two-bit negro crack-head."
  • (singing) "Oh, nothing makes me sadder than the agent lost his bladder in the... Ai-ai-airplane..."
  • "Love your work!" (to Garland Green)
  • "It's not difficult to surmise Nathan's feelings towards killing these guards; and my own proclivities are, uh, well-known and often-lamented facts of penal lore, but what I'm wondering is why you have any say in it at all?"
  • "Someone alerted the authorities at Carson City. Someone told them about our Lerner rendezvous. Someone even killed poor Billy Bedlam. Now, could this all be coincidence? Perhaps. Then someone went and tied a rope to our plane. So I ask you: what is going on? And I answer: we have a traitor in our midst. Now, how do we flush a traitor? I'm not sure but if we count to three I will find out who is on my team and who is not. That would be one...two..."
  • "Make a move and the bunny gets it."
  • "Before I kill you, Poe, I just want you to know that the last thing that little Casey Poe ever gets to smell will be my stinking breath."
  • [after being asked "Are you crazy?"] "According to my last psych evaluation…yes."
  • "Where's Cindino? (Cindino's plane roars out of the hangar) That's my fucking plane!"
  • (after Cindino's plane crashes) "Looks like you missed your connection".

D.E.A. Agent Duncan Malloy

  • "Sunsets are beautiful. Newborn babies are beautiful. This--(referring to his 1967 Corvette)--this is fucking spectacular!
  • "This is a situation that needs to get un-fucked, right now!"
  • "Well, of course you're having trouble reaching him! He's off saving the rain forest or recycling his sandals or some shit!"
  • "When this is over, so are you, you little prick!"
  • "Yeah, well I'd still like to crush his larynx with my boot!"

U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin

  • "'The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by observing its prisoners.' Dostoevsky said that, after doing a little time."
  • "If you can't trust a South American drug lord, who can you trust, huh?"
  • "Christ, they'll be slaughtered!"
  • [on William "Billy Bedlam" Bedford] "He caught his wife in bed with another man, left them alone, drove four towns over to his wife's family's house. Killed her parents, her brothers, her sisters, even her dog."
  • [on Diamond Dog] Nathan Jones, A.K.A. Diamond Dog. Former general of the Black Guerillas. He blew up a meeting of the National Rifle Association saying, and I quote, "They represented the basest negativity of the white race." He wrote a book in prison, "Reflections in a Diamond's Eye." New York Times called it a wakeup call for the black community. They're talking to Denzel for the movie.
  • [on Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom] This one has done it all. Kidnapping, robbery, murder, and extortion. His name is Cyrus Grissom, A.K.A. Cyrus the Virus. Thirty-nine years old, twenty-five of them spent in our institutions. But he's bettered himself on the inside. Earned two degrees, including his juris doctorate. He's also killed eleven fellow inmates, incited three riots, and escaped twice. Likes to brag he's killed more men than cancer. Cyrus is a poster child for the criminally insane. He's a true product of the system.

Johnny Baca (a.k.a. Johnny Twenty-Three)

  • "They'd call me Johnny Six Hundred if they knew the truth."
  • "I've got a spot on my arm just for you!"
  • "When you wake up, Bishop, I'll be Johnny Twenty-Four."


  • "Hey, Gomer! Thought you might need a little help escorting your old lady home." ~ Obnoxious drunk/future manslaughter victim
  • "'Lady' is a dog in a Walt Disney movie. My name is Bishop. Guard Bishop to you." ~ Guard Sally Bishop
  • "What you got there, Poe, is a walking, talking reason to rehabilitate." ~ Guard Sally Bishop
  • "All right, you damn peckerwoods! Crack the knuckles and hit the crystals. We're about to put this baby down in a sandbox!" ~ Swamp Thing
  • "Well, listen here big daddy, we've got one enigine shot to shit, zero fuel, and we're dropping to fast. The Strip's where I'm gonna land, although the word is [puts on a helmet]... crash." ~ Swamp Thing
  • "Goddamn it, Poe! It's time to fight, fuck, or hit the fence! I suggest you hit the fence." ~ Baby O


Vince Larkin: We pick up Mr. Sendino in Carson City. From then until the plane lands in Alabama, we've got two hours to get him to talk. We got you a seat right next to him. He's known to be somewhat garrulous in the company of thieves.
Duncan Malloy: "Garrulous"? What the fuck is "garrulous"?
Larkin: That would be loquacious, verbose, effusive... how about chatty?
Malloy: (snorts) What's with dictionary boy, here?
Larkin: Thesaurus boy, I think, is more appropriate.

(Cyrus Grissom is holding the pilot at gunpoint.)
Cyrus the Virus: Say there was a disturbance but you've got it under control. Say it, or I will kill you.
Pilot: Without me you got nobody to fly the plane.
Cyrus: I never think that far ahead.

Cyrus the Virus: If we let you out, you gonna play nice, Billy?
Billy Bedlam: [smiling] Probably not.
[Cyrus opens Billy's cage]

Johnny "23" Baca: Shit, that's Garland Green, man.
Cameron Poe: The Marietta Mangler.
"Baby O" Odell: That skinny little man butchered thirty-some people up and down the eastern seaboard. They say the way he killed those people makes the Manson Family look like the Partridge Family!
Poe: Well…he's on the right flight.

Diamond Dog: Yee-ha! What's on your mind, hillbilly?
Cameron Poe: Now, let's see, what was I thinking? Oh, yeah — "Yee-ha," that's right. I was just wondering what a black militant - that would be you - is doin' taking orders from a white boy on a power trip? Now don't you think that's strange?
Diamond Dog: A means to an end my white friend, a means to an end. See, I can play house nigga till we get to where we're going... and then, the day of the Dog begins...shh.

Billy Bedlam: I thought I heard you say you was on north block.
Poe: That's right.
Billy Bedlam: Funny thing. I was on north block. I don't know you.
Poe: Now what do you think that means? Nothing. Not diddly-shit. See, there were 160 cats on north block, and I didn't want to know 159 of them. Which included you! What do you think about that?

(In the plane's hold, Billy Bedlam has found Poe's personal effects — including Poe's parole certificate and the stuffed bunny he bought for his daughter.)
Poe: Put the bunny back in the box.
Billy Bedlam: I knew you was a punk, and I was right. You been playing us all along. You're a free man.
Poe: I said, "Put the bunny back in the box"!
(they brawl in the cargobay until Bedlam is impaled on an exposed pipe)
Poe: [remorsefully] Why couldnt you put the bunny back in the box?
Garland Green: Two went down. One came up.
Poe: Wasn't my fault.
Garland: Well, you don't have to tell me. Most murders are crimes of necessity rather than desire. But the great ones... Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy... they did it because it excited them.
Poe: Don't you... I got nothing in common with them — with you! Don't you talk to me! They were insane!
Garland: Now you're talking semantics. What if I told you insane was working a 50-hour week for 50 years at the end of which they tell you to piss off. Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?

Cyrus the Virus: Thanks Poe. You've proven to be a most useful mammal.
Cameron Poe: "Many hands make light work." My daddy taught me that.
Cyrus: You know what my daddy taught me?
Poe: What's that?
Cyrus: Nothin'.
Poe: Self educated man.

Little girl: Are you sick?
Garland Green: Why do you ask?
Little girl: You look sick.
Garland: I am sick.
Little girl: Do you take medicine?
Garland: There is no medicine for what I have.

(Cyrus has made a map in the dirt using various bits of junk to represent buildings at Lerner Field.)
Cyrus: Considering my audience, I'm gonna make this very quick and very simple. (points with a stick) This is the boneyard. This is the hangar. This is our plane.
Viking: What's that? (points at a rock.)
Cyrus: That's a rock.
Viking: O-okay.
Cyrus: The convoy will enter the boneyard here. Initially, we take out the first car, then we take out the last, creating a trap... an airtight cage filled with lots and lots of dead people. Nathan, get everybody in position, yeah? And bring me those propane tanks!

Cyrus: Good now here are the rules, I'm going to ask a question and then you will ask a question.
Larkin: Okay.
Cyrus: Okay, here's my first question. In Carson City your boys were onto us, how?
Maloy: One of the guards- (Is cut off by Larkin)
Larkin: One of the guards faked a heart attack and we had to remove his restraints, okay?
Cyrus: Alright, now what's your question?
Larkin: Where are you going with my plane, Cyrus?
Cyrus: We're going to Disney Land.
Larkin: You're lying, Cyrus.
Cyrus: So are you, Vince.

(Swamp Thing fiddles with the plane's transponder, trying to disconnect it)
Pinball: You the Swamp Thing?
Swamp Thing: That's right.
Pinball: You flyin' the plane?
Swamp Thing: That's right.
(Swamp Thing finishes and hands him the transponder)
Pinball: It's amazing the shit you white trash know.
Swamp Thing: That's right!


Nicholas Cage - Cameron Poe
John Malkovich - Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom
Ving Rhames - Nathan Jones ("Diamond Dog")
Steve Buscemi - Garland Green
John Cusack - Vince Larkin
Mykelti Williamson - "Baby O" Odell
Dave Chapelle - "Pinball" Parker
Colm Meaney - Duncan Malloy