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Define irony: a bunch of idiots on an airplane dancing around to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.
~ Garland Greene
What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years... at the end of which they tell you to piss off? Ending up in some retirement village... hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time. Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?
~ Garland Greene, rationalizing his murders.

Garland Greene is a major antagonist in the 1997 American action film Con Air. He is an infamous serial killer who is brought upon he Jailbird prison transfer plane amongst a variety of other criminals, and is feared by each one.

He was portrayed by Steve Buscemi, who also portrayed Mr. Pink in Reservoir DogsCarl Showalter in Fargo, Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, Randall Boggs in Monsters Inc., Mr. Wesley in Home on the Range, Francis E. Francis in The Boss Baby and Dwight Diddlehopper in The Simpsons.

Biography

There's no medicine for what I have.
~ Garland Greene

Garland Greene is a convict introduced in the second half of the movie. He is an insane serial killer brought to Carson City for a prison transfer aboard the plane "the Jailbird", which unknown to the guards, had been hijacked by its own prisoners, led by Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom. His introduction apparently shocks and frightens other inmates.

Parolee and ex-miltary hero Cameron Poe is shocked by Greene's presence on the plane. His cellmate "Baby-O" is also disturbed by Greene's murders, identifying him as "the Marietta Mangler" and that his killings made "the Manson Family look like the Partridge Family."

The police cars headed their way, the Jailbird immediately takes off. Shortly after escaping Carson City, Grissom orders Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones to release Greene, whom he considers a "national treasure".

When Poe is forced to kill inmate Billy Bedlam in self-defense, Greene tells him that he understands, and speaks admiringly of serial killers such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Poe angrily replies that he is nothing like them or Greene, calling their crimes "insane". Greene retorts that he considers "normal life" to be truly insane, and that calling his actions insane is merely "semantics". He then brags to a disgusted Poe that he once drove through three three states wearing a girl's head as a hat.

While the plane refuels, Greene separates from the other criminals and meets a girl in an abandoned swimming pool. The girl invites him to play with her, and asks him if he is sick; Greene replies that he is, and that there is no medicine for what he has. The girl invites him to sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" with her. He resists his homicidal urges, and spares the girl's life. He then rejoins the other convicts on the plane. When it crashes at the end of the film, he is nowhere to be found.

Greene is last seen gambling and drinking while on a winning streak at a casino, and is shown to be apparently reformed, presumably giving up his life of crime.

Personality

Garland Greene is considered the most dangerous and depraved convict in the movie, which is saying something. He butchered over thirty people along the eastern coast, and at one point, he gleefully states that he once wore a girl's head as a hat. Because of his brutal killing methods, the other convicts are afraid of him (except for Grissom, who respects him). After Poe kills Bedlam in self-defense, he tells the shaken parolee that there is a difference between killing out of necessity and killing for pleasure. He describes his fellow convicts (aside from Poe and Baby-O) as "a bunch of idiots", which implies he wants nothing to do with them. He is also intelligent, as he was shown trying to deduce Billy Bedlam's mental behavioral illness. 

Despite his nasty reputation, Garland appears to be very mellow and keeps to himself much of the time. He shows a sarcastic streak and enjoys taunting Poe, although never tries to harm him. There is evidence to suggest he may have a soft spot, such as when he was interacting with the girl and holds back on killing her despite having the opportunity, even keeping her doll as a souvenir of sorts.

Trivia

  • Although Garland Greene is considered the most dangerous convict, he does not kill anyone throughout the film.
  • Con Air director Simon West and Steve Buscemi studied real-life serial killers for the role of Garland Greene and managed to incorporate many of them into the character, most notably the following:
    • Ed Gein: Butchering corpses and keeping decapitated heads
    • Ted Bundy: Homicidal tendencies, driving through states to avoid law enforcement
    • Charles Manson: Serial killer instincts
    • Jeffrey Dahmer: Calm demeanor and insanity

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