Air Force One
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(Nov 16, 2010)
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The fate of the nation rests on the courage of one man. Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman star in two-time Oscar(r) nominee Wolfgang Petersen's gripping thriller about an uncompromising U.S. President who has just told the world he will not negotiate with terrorists. When Russian neo-nationalists hijack Air Force One, the world's most secure and extraordinary aircraft, the President is faced with a nearly impossible decision to give in to terrorist demands or sacrifice not only the country's dignity,but the lives of his wife and daughter.
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"Air Force One" (1997) is just a classic action adventure movie. Ford is the President, flying from Moscow aboard the presidential airplane back to Washington, along with his family and many staffers. The plane has not been in the air long when Gary Oldman, (excellent as always), pops up as the leader of a gang of Russian terrorists who hijack the plane, hellbent on having the President release a hostage who is a general and folk hero. Of course, the US does not negotiate with terrorists -- or does it?
The Oldman-led terrorists are vicious, but not brilliant. They completely lose track of the president, and he manages to escape into the belly of the plane. His family and staff don't know where he is, either. He manages to use his cell phone to call the White House -- whether that would work or not, I don't know. In any case, he and everyone in the Situation Room devise a plan to neutralize the bad guys and rescue the good guys. It may be far-fetched, yet clichéd, predictable stuff, but a good cast, entertaining story and pretty good dialogue make it seem less so.
Ford mutters to himself better than any actor, and he gets to do a good bit of that while he's below decks. He is always a step ahead of the terrorists, and he and Oldman face off well. There are some nice little twists and turns.
Don't expect a tremendous amount from "Air Force One." and it won't disappoint. The most startling difference in movies like this made in the late 1990s and those made in the mid-2010s is in the special effects. CGI has completely changed the look of movies, and allows for much greater suspension of disbelief. The action sequences in "Air Force One" would have benefited from the now-ubiquitous process, but you can't work with what you don't have.
I like the premise of the hijacking of Air Force One, and watching the bad guys' execution of their plan was cool, but the plot starts a long spiral of improbability from there. I'm glad I watched, but I won't be seeking it out again for a while.
But the film is very good in it's own right too. Wolfgang Peterson creates a heavy feeling of tension, Ford a likeable hero and Oldman as Korshunov, a rotten villain who was actually quite scary. The film is also very well put together technically. The editing and sound is top-notch, though some of the CGI is way below par for your average blockbuster. The R-rating helps. If this were made today it would be PG-13 garbage, but the blood spatters, swearing and body count make you believe that ANY character could die next.
But there are flaws. And one BIG flaw. Some of the dialogue really sucks. And Wendy Crewson has a pretty bad role as the First Lady. The only reason her character is even in it is because the President needs to have a First Lady. Her role is totally useless. I predicted her EVERY line of dialogue before she even said it. I am not kidding. Even Oldman at one point tells her to `SHUT UP!' echoing the feeling of every viewer.
If you can overlook this minor, although highly irritating, glitch you will totally enjoy a high-octane action film with many, increasingly exciting, set-pieces. Very cool.
And try to spot three villains from Beverly Hills Cop 2 and one villain from Beverly Hills Cop 3. They're all here.
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