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AIR FORCE ONE (director: Wolfgang Petersen; screenwriter: Andrew W. Marlowe; cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus; editor: Richard Francis-Bruce; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Harrison Ford (President James Marshall), Gary Oldman (Ivan Korshunov), Wendy Crewson (Grace Marshall), Jurgen Prochnow (General Radek), Liesel Matthews (Alice Marshall), Dean Stockwell (Secretary of Defense), Xander Berkeley (Secret Service Agent Gibbs), Glenn Close (Vice President Kathyrn Bennett); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Wolfgang Petersen, Gail Katz, Armyan Bernstein, Jon Shestack; Sony Pictures Entertainment; 1997)
Everything about it was unreal, except it did a big box office.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Wolfgang Petersen (“Das Boot”/”In The Line of Fire”/”Troy”) directs this ludicrous cartoon-like formulaic thriller, with the Prez as an action hero. It mindlessly entertains with well-staged action sequences, the betrayal of a trusted government agent and trite dialogue. Andrew W. Marlowe provides the nonsensical screenplay. It plays out as a tacky fantasy escapist film, that loads up on cliches.

U.S. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), his wife (Wendy Crewson), his 12-year-old daughter (Liesel Matthews) and some cabinet members are held hostage on the jumbo Air Force One, while in the air, after leaving Moscow and the Prez addressing the Moscow assembly with a tough speech. The plane is overtaken by Russian terrorists, led by the fanatic Korshunov (Gary Oldman), who sneaked aboard posing as a Russian journalist with the help of an American insider. The terrorists blame America for destroying Russia, and threaten to kill everyone on the plane unless America releases their dissident leader, General Radek (Jurgen Prochnow), from prison. Marshall resists his captors and flees to the plane’s hold, and the Viet Nam vet, a Medal of Honor winner, becomes a guerrilla fighter. Meanwhile Vice President Bennett (Glenn Close) is in Washington to receive the kidnapper’s calls.

The villains are nasty, things are never boring and at least 2 stunts are daring (the mid-flight fuel change and the final rescue scene), but the inane jingoistic narrative is merely grating. Everything about it was unreal, except it did a big box office.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”