‘Speed’ VS. ‘Con Air’: Which Action Movie Ruled The ’90s?

Which film gets your vote?

Bryan Brunatiby Bryan Brunati

It’s the age-old question that has been asked by no one but me: Which action movie ruled the ’90s, Speed or Con Air? Released only three years apart, both films rocked audiences when they were seen on the big screen; one with a bus and the other with a plane. But now we have to answer which movie was the best of that glorious decade. Let’s break it down and finally learn the answer so we (I) can move on with our lives once and for all.

Speed VS. Con Air: Which Action Movie Ruled The ’90s?

The Hero

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: Once again Keanu Reeves sounded like a surfer pretending to be a cop, but he did spend an absurd amount of time on a public bus, and even got under one.

Con Air: Nicolas Cage plays an Army ranger turned convict who decides to spend most of the movie trying to convince us he’s from Alabama (he fails).

Edge: Reeves. We have a tough time believing anyone from Alabama would have a sound plan, so surfer cop it is.

The Gal

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: Sandra Bullock plays the hottest bus driver in Los Angeles.

Con Air: Monica Potter doesn’t get involved in the action. She just wonders when her daughter can finally meet her fake Alabama father.

Edge: Sandra saves Keanu’s ass numerous times, so she gets the nod.

Loyal Sidekick

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: Joe Morton plays Captain McMahon, and he’s pretty much in Reeves’ ear the whole time. So he stays out of danger’s way for the most part.

Con Air: It’s Bubba from Forrest Gump. He takes a damn bullet for Cage.

Edge: Bubba. Again, the man takes a bullet for his friend. Can’t beat that.

Villain

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: Dennis Hopper plays Howard Payne, and he’s a retired bomb squad member with a bone to pick with everyone, including LA Metro, it seems.

Con Air: John Malkovich plays Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, and he’s just a serial killer who is willing to do anything for freedom; even kill a stuffed bunny.

Edge: While “The Virus” is a fantastic nickname, it’s tough to top Howard Payne doing everything from his living room pretty much.

Villain Demise

Speed: Hopper’s character loses his head on top of a train because Reeves was taller than him.

Con Air: Malkovich’s character not only gets electrocuted on power lines, but he gets his head smashed in by a pounder at a construction site.

Edge: Howard Payne may be the more ruthless villain, but Grissom’s demise was a hell of a lot more brutal.

Memorable Quotes

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: “You slow down and this bus will explode. There is a bomb on this bus. If we slow down, it’ll blow. If anyone tries to get off, it’ll explode,” is probably one of the more notable quotes from the film.

Con Air: “Put…the bunny…back…in the box,” is by far the most memorable quote of this film.

Edge: Cage’s character literally killed a man because he handled his daughter’s gift. So yeah, this pretty much gives Con Air the edge. It’s also the last thing that dude hears before Cage’s character kills him.

Action Sequences

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: Elevators are blowing up, buses are blowing up, subways are flying off the track and, let’s not forget, that classic bus gap jump.

Con Air: Chaos on the plane, chaos off the plane, a high speed chase and, let’s not forget, a plane lands on the Vegas strip.

Edge: This one is close, but I’ll give the edge to Con Air simply because Cage’s character does most of that while wearing a wife-beater.

Overall Experience

'Speed' VS. 'Con Air': Which Action Movie Ruled The '90s?

Speed: A plot about a bomb on a bus may not seem so exciting, but it’s pretty amazing how much excitement stemmed from that simple concept. Not the smartest movie out there, but it definitely remains one of the most fun action movies, all while trying it’s best to stay realistic.

Con Air: Definitely not the smartest movie out there, but all those explosions, fantastic one-liners and hilarious side characters just reminds us what a loud, great movie this is.

So with that said…

Winner

Speed Vs Con Air

Sorry, Cage, but Reeves and Speed had the best action movie of the ’90s by a hair. While it’s not as big and loud as Con Air, it tries its best to steer away from the typical silly action movie and actually delivers with an intense, unforgettable classic film.

Make sure to see these, as well: The 20 Best Cheesy Action Movies of the ’80s and ’90s