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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #17: Duncan Malloy (Con Air)

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Duncan Malloy, this is your spoiler warning for the 1997 movie, Con Air.

Nobody who drives a convertible with a personalised license plate wearing those shades can be anything other than a magnificent jerk.

Perhaps, Con Air was always destined to disappoint. If you put the greatest actor in the world Nicolas Cage in a movie with fellow thespian heavyweights like John Malkovich, Colm Meaney, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, John Cusack, and that dude from the X-Files who liked to get it on with dead folk, then people are going to expect great things. It’s inevitable really. Anything other than disappointment would be, frankly, a miracle. Fortunately, Con Air defied all the odds and didn’t disappoint, becoming one of the greatest movies of all time, and cleaning up at the imaginary 1997 Academy Awards that took place in my mind, with Cage receiving eleven gongs all on his own for everything from most ridiculous comedy accent, to best slow motion hair blowing scene.

But we’re not here to talk about how amazing Nicolas Cage is, or how totally radical it is when he gets shot in the arm and doesn’t even flinch and then knocks a fool out with an open hand slap, or what a travesty of justice it is that a God-fearing all-American military man who served his country with pride should go to prison just for icing a dude that was trying to get fresh with his woman. No no no, this is Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks, not Cinema’s Most Glorious Movies, and so we’re here to talk about Duncan Malloy, the DEA dick-hole who nearly derails all of Nicolas Cage’s hard work, played by everyone’s favourite Irishman, Colm Meaney.

The plot of Con Air is far too labyrinthine and intricate to articulate within a mere sentence or two, but suffice it to say, an aeroplane transporting high value prisoners is hijacked, and it’s up to prisoner-but-not-really-a-baddie Cameron Poe to bring them all to justice. The villains range from violent sociopaths to different kinds of violent sociopaths, but whatever their crimes, they can’t evade the long arm of the law for long. And when it comes to the long arm of the law, Nicolas Cage is practically Mr. Tickle. Anyway, I’m not sure where I was going with all of that, so let’s just say that the scumbags are in control of the plane, and it’s all Duncan Malloy’s fault.

This license plate, btw – unacceptable.

You see, Duncan Malloy is a no-nonsense cop who hates la de da liberal snowflakes that’d rather negotiate than just blow shit up the American way. Back in ’97 we only said “snowflake” when we were talking about actual flakes of snow, long before it became a derogatory term for people who don’t think throwing everybody with a tan out of the country is awesome. Anyway, it was a different time back then, man, but there’s always been jerks, and ol’ Duncan definitely fits the bill. If you were ever in any doubt about how much of a jerk Duncan Malloy is, let’s remember that his personalised license plate is “AZZ KIKR.”

Duncan is planning on sending one of his agents onto the prisoner plane undercover, but after he’s told that he can’t send his man on board with a concealed gun, in case, you know, the baddies get it and hijack the plane, he sneaks a gun into his friend’s sock, and then the baddies steal it and hijack the plane. In order to make amends for his monumental fuck up, he decides the best course of action is to blow the plane up in the sky, collateral damage be damned. A US Marshal named Vince Larkin thinks blowing up the plane with hostages on board, and the prisoners who aren’t involved in the hostile takeover probably seems a little excessive, but Malloy ain’t having it. He’s absolutely desperate to blow shit up. Even when he’s got evidence thrust directly in front of him that they’ve got an ally on the plane who’s helping to bring down the baddies, you can see it in his eyes, he’s fucking dying to shoot some missiles from his attack chopper. Some men just want to watch the world burn. Or you know, some of the sky. A plane in the sky.

Duncan laughing about how much a jerk he is.

Jerk-off Quote: “Well, of course you’re having trouble reaching him! He’s off saving the rain forest or recycling his sandals or some shit!” – Duncan Malloy, debating the whereabouts of his colleague Vince Larkin (saving the day) while he gets into an attack helicopter to chase the bad guys (wild goose chase).

Comeuppance: When Vince Larkin realises that Malloy is going in the wrong direction to shoot down the hijacked plane, he steals the AZZ KIKR to hit the open road and chase them down himself. After Malloy’s car is hilariously destroyed thanks to aeroplane related misadventure, rather than go bananas like you’d expect, Duncan sits and laughs with Vince about how he was bored of the car anyway. He stops being a jerk and turns into a good guy. See, that’s what happens when a couple of guys get together to help Nic Cage take down a catalogue of villains. True friendship. What a beautiful story.

Jerk-off Rating: He’s the sort of person who says “cuck” without a hint of irony or self-awareness.

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #11 Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars), #16 Fredrick Zoller (Inglourious Basterds), or #10 Peter Parker (Spider-Man 3).

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2 comments

Thedude3445 May 27, 2018 at 12:27 am

Amazing article. Of course I’m not sure if Malloy was entirely wrong about shooting down the plane after the absolute carnage unleashed upon Las Vegas in the movie’s ending, but he sure was a dick about it.

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John Cal McCormick May 29, 2018 at 3:47 am

To be fair to him, he probably was right. By the end of the movie they’ve destroyed half of the strip in Las Vegas, Cyrus the Virus has gone on a rampage through the city in a fire engine, and Garland Greene has escaped custody and is drinking cocktails in a casino. Still, he didn’t need to be such a dick about it.

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