Con Airis an Academy Award -nominated 1997 American action-thriller film directed by Simon West and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer . It stars Nicolas Cage , John Cusack and John Malkovich . The film borrows its title from the nickname of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System .
The film featured the hit single " How Do I Live ", performed by Trisha Yearwood for the movie but originally recorded by LeAnn Rimes .
Former Army Ranger Cameron Poe is sentenced to a maximum-security federal penitentiary for using excessive force and killing a drunk man who had been attempting to assault his pregnant wife Tricia. Eight years later, Poe is paroled on good behavior, and eager to see his daughter Casey whom he has never met. Poe is arranged to be flown back home to Alabama on the C-123 "Jailbird" where he will be released on landing; several other prisoners, including his diabetic cellmate and friend Mike "Baby-O" O'Dell and the criminal mastermind Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, are also being flown to be transferred to a new Supermax prison. DEA Agent Duncan Malloy wishes to bring aboard one of his Agents, Willie Sims, as a prisoner to coax more information out of drug lord Francisco Cindino before he is incarcerated. Vince Larkin, the U.S. Marshal overseeing the transfer, agrees to it, but is utterly unaware that Malloy has armed Sims with a gun.
Shortly after takeoff, a prisoner named "Pinball" Parker incites a riot spearheaded by Grissom that allows them to overpower the guards and pilots and take over the plane; Sims is killed when he attempts to stop Grissom. Grissom orders the plane to continue to Carson City for a scheduled prisoner transfer, where they would offload the guards and pilots disguised as prisoners, aided by the poor visibility from an ongoing dust-storm. Though he could have left the plane during the transfer, Poe feigns cooperation with Grissom but leaves a recording device from Sims' body on one of the guards being offloaded. Among the new prisoners boarding the plane are Cindino, who masterminded their escape, their new pilot Swamp Thing and serial killer Garland Greene, who even has the respect of Cyrus.
Grissom orders Swamp Thing to remove the transponder and has Pinball plant it on another plane. Moments before the plane takes off, the guards discover the clue Poe left behind, and alert Malloy and Larkin. Malloy sets off immediately to follow the transponder but soon discovers the deception. Meanwhile, Pinball was unable to make it aboard the plane on time, and his body has become lodged in the landing gear as the aircraft takes off when the security forces are alerted. Poe secretly writes a message to Larkin explaining Grissom's plan on Pinball's shirt and pushes the body out, where it lands in the middle of Fresno, California . Larkin calls for the National Guard to Lerner Airfield, an abandoned Air Force base in the desert, while using Malloy's sportscar to beat the Jailbird there.
The Jailbird lands at Lerner but overshoots the runway after nearly hitting a tour plane and grounds itself in the sand. Seeing no evidence of Cindino's plane, Grissom orders the prisoners to dig the Jailbird free. Meanwhile, Poe, seeking an insulin shot for Baby-O, meets Larkin and the two run down their respective situations. Larkin proceeds to find Cindino boarding his private jet with his men and manages to disable the jet before it leaves. Grissom discovers Cindino's treachery and kills him by blowing up his private jet. Johnny 23 has already spotted National Guard troops heading toward the airfield and Grissom arms the prisoners with rifles and shotguns from the plane's weapons locker after discovering Billy Bedlam's dead body and arranges to lure the troops into a death trap, but Larkin protects the troops during the gun battle by using a bulldozer as a make-shift shield. Grissom and the remaining prisoners return to the Jailbird and take off before Poe is able to escape with Baby-O and a female guard, Sally Bishop.
Grissom soon discovers Poe's true identity and prepares to kill him after shooting Baby-O. Malloy, having tracked down the plane, opens fire on it and disables one of the engines. With Cyrus and the others distracted shooting from the plane's ramp, Poe gains control of the cockpit. When Larkin tells Malloy about Poe's identity as a parolee, Malloy orders not to fire. They both order the plane to land at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas but since they are low on fuel, they are forced to crash land in The Strip .
The landing injures the inmates while causing massive destruction along the Strip until it comes to a halt at the lobby of the Sands Hotel . Amid the chaos, Poe is thanked by both Baby-O and Sally for his help. Grissom, Diamond Dog and Swamp Thing escape on a fire truck. Larkin and Poe notice them trying to flee, hop on motorcycles and pursue them, eventually killing all three escapees. Finally, Poe is able to meet Tricia and Casey who have been brought by Larkin to meet him. Cameron Poe then reunites with his loving wife and daughter.
All of the convicts are now dead or recaptured, except for Garland Greene having escaped and survived the crash unharmed, who is shown playing craps and sipping margaritas in a casino.