• Peter Hunter

The 24 Faces of Cameron Poe

Take it all in, boys

“The Faces Of” is an ongoing series where we celebrate the crème de la crème of hamming it up, nibbling the scenery and jutting their mugs at the camera. Each installment explores the expressions of one character in one film in overly exhaustive detail. It’s in your best interest to be familiar with the film in question: there will be spoilers. All GIFs in this article are available on our official GIPHY.

It’s fair to say that Nicolas Cage is the most fascinating actor of his generation. The man is equally capable of propelling a film to the next level, or single handedly placing it in Razzie contention. For every Mandy, there is a Wicker Man. It’s apropos that we kickoff this exploration of overacting with a man that’s made a career out of memeable faces, in a movie that is seldom celebrated for them.

Welcome to Con Air. These are the 24 Faces of Cameron Poe.

01: #TFW You Finally Shoot a Scene Without Hair Extensions

Poor Nic Cage. He’s absolutely ripped in this movie. Shredded. Chiseled from marble. Use whatever idiom you like: his ish is tight! But you would hardly notice since he spends nearly the entire film draped in the worst fake hair this side of Samurai Cop. Imagine spending four months waking up at two in the morning to log hours of cardio and wash it down with some plain chicken breasts and dry pasta. Then you’re told to wear that stitched together mess of unloved wicker craft. Guess that’s why he makes the big bucks.

02: When your six-month pregnant wife won’t let you commit a felony

He’s a standup guy. He won’t let anyone disrespect the mother of his child. Protagonist: got it. I just love that little extra flair at the end here. So needlessly intense. You know he’s just thinking about caving that dude’s face in. Oh...


A man is dead. Cameron killed him. He’s going for solemn or regretful. But for a dude who over-emotes nearly every second he spends on screen, it’s kind of stunning how apathetic he is here given the gravity of the moment. This is probably the least expressive scene of the film.

04: #TFW you remember there was a plea deal

Okay, never mind, this is. Bro this is jail, not the self-checkout line.

05: The Face of Honing Your Craft

Honestly, I would watch an entire series about Cameron Poe’s growth in prison. There’s something so quaint and adorable about how earnestly proud he is of this Origami. Just look at that precocious scamp! Show me Cameron Poe getting in a good decoupage or a paper mache sesh. Maybe a patriotic collage or some toilet distilled Pinot? Sky’s the limit here (pun not intended).

06: #TFW all your tabs are still open

Oh god, getting a 360 of that hair is rough. Business in the front: slaughter in the back.

07: Take it all in, Boys.

I’ve never been so taken with a shot I absolutely detest. The awkwardly long, closed eyes. The late, half smile. The hair just… billowing, billowing, and billowing. It’s a grotesque accident on the freeway and I’m rubbernecking it. I can’t look away! There’s something so entrancing about this menagerie of poor decisions. Why the intense zoom? Why the half facial lighting? Why stick the fan in? No reason! Just let the GIF loop and soak in every last detail.

08: You come here often?

I’m foregoing context here, and I ask you: what action on a plane full of murderers, thieves, rapists and the like would warrant such a goofball comedy eyebrow flex? Maybe Malkovich asked someone to pull his finger.

09: Sad Sack

Nic Cage is capable of displaying emotions in ways previously unknown in this or any other universe, but he’s only got one move to look disappointed. Squint. Tilt. Shake.

10: Sad Sack II: The Road Warrior

DEA Agent slowly bleeding to death at your feet? Squint. Tilt. Shake..

11: Sad Sack III: Beyond Thunderdome

Plan to avert violent takeover of plane by psychopaths foiled? Well, high time we gave this a good dose of squint, tilt, shake! The point in ruminating over this reaction isn’t really to knock Cage’s performance. I think it works fine, short of the DEA reaction. It’s just so interesting to see a man with a bottomless bag of tricks go back to the well so often.

12: ...I did leave the oven on.

Ving Rhames asks Cage what he’s thinking. I like to think he’s wondering whether to go all in on Face/Off or not.

13: There are free sandwiches in the break room. I repeat: there are FREE sandwiches in the break room.

Karen, if you grab the last turkey club again, I swear to GOD!

r14: What are any of us doing here

15: Wait… what ARE any of us doing here?

16: #MFW I remember serial murderers are good at serial murdering

How much Billy Bedlam was left on the cutting room floor? Dude got a dedicated intro and his own little cell on the plane and Sally Can’t Dance almost has as many lines.

That being said: it’s for the best.

17: If I can’t smell it, they can’t.

Idea: good. Execution: poor. He looks less like a good man who was driven to kill and more like someone who’s trying to remember if they washed their hands. Based on this expression: this man ain’t a hand washer.

18: Well, how do you like them apples?

Agitating unstable, violent criminals is a good idea. Taunting them for no reason is an even better one. Forgetting context, this is actually a fantastic shot.

19: Yeah, whatever bro, no big deal.

There are three or four shots of Cameron Poe jauntily stepping away from fire. Friend, I don’t know if you’ve heard the good news but fire: hot. Fire, indeed, very hot. It’s not even in the vein of an action star turning away from an explosion. It looks like Cameron is running to the cooler for another Coors Light.

I think we can all agree Cameron is definitely a Coors Light man.

20: When your friend who’s been dying for the entire movie is dying for a new and exciting reason

I really hope that the Con-Air experience for Mykelti Williamson was both A) a breeze of a shoot and B) very well compensated. It’s such a shame to see a perfectly capable actor reduced to a half-assed ticking clock device twice in the same film. “MY INSULIN!” could be a rule for the Con-Air drinking game and it would hardly need any company to achieve an effective buzz.

As for Cage, he’s getting the emotion of the moment across but there’s something about it that’s just… off. Seems sort of callous to say he’s the wrong sort of sad here but - he’s the wrong sort of sad here.

21: Personal Trainer Life

This is just a badass moment. A lot of the action in Con-Air feels so detached for a variety of reasons. The bluntness of this just makes it so satisfying. Gun? Fuck you. I am made of FIST!

22: The Chips Remake Nobody Asked For and We Don’t Deserve

John Cusack’s an action star now. I dunno. Whatever.

23: #FiveSecondRule

This stuffed rabbit got more screen time than the damn Maltese Falcon.

24: Last Minute Oscar Grab

I actually think this is pretty solid acting by Cage. He’s got to carry a lot of the emotional weight here since the audience really hasn’t spent much time with his wife or daughter. I think he does a fine job.

If you ignore the fact that they’re on a smoldering Vegas Strip with money raining down from the sky, it’s actually kind of a sweet moment. Kind of.

Like what you read? Listen to our Con Air episode. Follow Peter on social media.

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