Led by Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (Malkovich), a dozen jailbirds hijack a transport plane. Only parolee Cameron Poe (Cage) - caught up in the middle - stands between the worst of the worst and their freedom. Scott Rosenberg's ingeniously tooled script recalls such vintage entertainments as The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape. Dialogue is pared to bullet points, punctuation between spectacular set-pieces, but Rosenberg makes every word count. If it needs strong actors to flesh out the characterisation, so be it: Rhames, Buscemi, Trejo - faces you don't forget in a hurry. Sometimes skin deep is close enough. Commercials director West gives us the hard sell non-stop for 115 ear-splitting minutes. There are misjudgments. He gets off on male flesh rippling against slow motion fireballs, and has no time for women, but throws in a transvestite for cheap jibes. The climax looks like an afterthought, and in trying to top itself, the movie finally goes OTT. Very cool, but also very cold.
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