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I Was Brought To Prison In Handcuffs For A Con Air Screening & It Was The Best Experience

I'm a trashy adult because I grew up watching trashy action movies. As a kid, my family didn't let me watch horror and listen to heavy metal in case I became a no-good Satanist, but they were cool with me binging on violent Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Sammo Hung flicks until my heart was content. It also helped that my grandfather was a fan of those movies as well, and some of my happiest childhood memories are of him and me watching people get shot and punched. But there was one movie that really took us to the Promised Land, and it's the reason why I ended up in handcuffs back in 2016.

Before we get to that, I'll explain why "Con Air" caused me to act so impulsively. I vividly recall my grandfather renting this movie for me back in 1998, and the two of us watching it together for the first time. Naturally, our minds were blown to smithereens, because such is the power of "Con Air." By the time the end credits rolled, I was a lifelong fan of Nicolas Cage, mullets, and LeAnn Rimes power ballads ("Coyote Ugly" got me into her more upbeat jams). I haven't looked back since.

"Con Air" means the world to me. It's my childhood and adulthood. It reminds me of my family. It represents the rush of leaving video stores with movies I shouldn't have been watching back in the '90s. And it's still one of the best movies of all time. So, when I learned that it was playing on the big screen at the 2016 Glasgow Film Festival, I immediately bought tickets. However, I had no idea that I'd have to go to prison to see Cage take down criminals.

Okay, so I didn't have to commit a crime before I saw Con Air

Going to prison to see "Con Air" isn't as weird as it sounds. It's a simple story, really. Every year, the Glasgow Film Festival shows cult classics in a top-secret location, which entails putting moviegoers on buses and taking them into the unknown. The "Con Air" screening was part of this tradition.

You see, the secret locations are always relevant to the movie in question; for example, I once had the privilege of watching "The Lost Boys" at a theme park that's located next to a large body of water, similar to the setting of the iconic '80s vampire movie. It felt just like being in Santa Carla, minus the oiled-up saxophone players and vampires. People were bitten, sure, but that's another story for another time.

However, "Con Air" was my first experience with the GFF's mystery event, so I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I was going to see "Con Air" and that's all that mattered to me, but I was admittedly taken by surprise when I found myself in cuffs and en route to the penitentiary.

I still handed myself over to the law so that I could see Con Air

When everyone converged for the "Con Air" event, we were informed that we'd be taken to prison by armed guards. When you grow up in Central Scotland, it's natural to worry about any prison visit. Heading into the "Con Air" screening, I feared that the Glasgow Film Festival's henchmen planned on taking us to an actual functioning prison. If that happened, I'd most certainly have bumped into some of the people I went to school with, as many of them are immersed in the criminal lifestyle. If they met me, they'd have made small talk and roasted me for listening to Slipknot and having a mustache when I was 13. And that would have distracted me from the "Con Air" experience.

Fortunately, my nerves were settled when the staff informed us that we wouldn't be surrounded by inmates that I went to school with. So, with that cleared up, I happily put on an orange jumpsuit and let some fake prison officers handcuff me. After that, I was put onto a bus with other inmates and driven to an old industrial estate in the deep end of Glasgow, Scotland — a city that was once hailed as the murder capital of Europe.

Growing up, my mother always told me never to let people pretending to be prison officers put handcuffs on me and take me to strange places. Well, sorry for ignoring your advice, Mom, but you don't understand the appeal of watching a mullet-sporting Nic Cage desecrate dead bodies from 40,000 feet in the air. But the other 300 people who attended this screening understood the power of "Con Air," too, and I was happy to do time with them for a night.

Life lesson: Prison is a cool setting for a Con Air screening

The Glasgow Film Festival folks didn't take us to an actual prison, per se. No one was doing push-ups, trying to learn Spanish, or writing letters to daughters they'd never met. Not that there's anything wrong with staying in shape, learning new languages, or keeping in touch with family members, mind you, but a "Con Air" screening should just be about the movie. Instead, they brought us to a funhouse known as The Experience, a building with the fuselage of a plane sticking out of the side, which had been set up to resemble a prison on the inside. They even brought in armed guards to prowl the building's hallways.

Upon arriving, we all enjoyed some go-karting and laser shooting before they took us to a nice big screen for "Con Air." There was a bar where we could order refreshing beverages and tasty snacks. While this is a big aspect of most movie screenings, you appreciate the little things more after being relieved of handcuffs. In those moments, I was reminded to never take my freedom for granted ever again, as it's essential for being able to eat nachos and watch "Con Air."

More than anything, the prison experience was a communal one. There I was, sitting among 300 strangers, all of us sporting jumpsuits, united in our pure, undistilled love of "Con Air." We ate, drank, laughed, cheered, and had the best night of our lives. 

When it was over, we rushed the guards, stole the buses, and tried to escape to an exotic island. Okay, that never happened, but it's a more interesting story than being put back onto a bus and returning to the town center as free men.