When President Mitchell assists Russian forces
With capturing Radek, a dangerous threat,
He vows to stop tyrant regimes at their sources,
Though most of his Cabinet’s not ready yet.
Not long after takeoff, his plane is hijacked
By terrorists led by Egor Korshunov.
They want Radek swiftly released, though the fact
That Mitchell escaped really ticks Egor off.
The Vice President’s politics are ignored
By Egor, who threatens continual slaughter.
The President, though, is still hiding on board,
In hopes of retrieving his wife and his daughter.
He plays cat-and-mouse with the terrorist band
And calls Washington for some needed advice.
Through sabotage, Mitchell disrupts what was planned,
Although interference does come with a price.
A helpful distraction allows him to sneak
The hostages out from the maniac’s grip.
When captured by Egor, things start to look bleak
Until Marshall violently gives him the slip.
Although he’s retaken his family and plane,
He now has to watch out for enemy fire.
The plane is soon damaged and cannot remain
For long in the air with no capable flyer.
Support gets his wife and his daughter away,
And they just have time for a last-minute run.
One final attacker can’t quite win the day,
And Mitchell escapes to the new Air Force One.

Air Force One is a clear imitator of 1988’s Die Hard, featuring a terrorist team that seizes control of a supposedly secure fortress, takes hostages, and is undone by a lone defender. The first terrorist killed even yields the protagonist his first weapon, a machine gun minus the “ho, ho, ho.” What Air Force One has over its predecessor is (A) an even direr situation aboard an airplane and (B) Harrison Ford as the President of the United States.

Ford’s star power and his sympathetic portrayal of a family man willing to do what’s right over what’s popular make him an ideal champion. I did like how his daughter’s complaint about her desire for mature involvement was depicted merely as normal angst rather than some kind of told-you-so in which she proves she knew better than Dad; such situations are all too common in film. Gary Oldman is an effectively intense Hans Gruber stand-in, and while he’s clearly insane, he obviously considers the ideological reasons for his crimes legitimate, making him an intimidating zealot. Most of the other performances, such as Vice President Glenn Close, are serviceable, but the film does feature a number of recognizable actors, at least to me. The Secretary of Defense is played by Dean Stockwell, better known as the hologram Al on Quantum Leap, and Egor’s pilot Andrei is portrayed by Elya Baskin, Peter Parker’s landlord in Spider-Man 2 and 3. Not to mention the Lost alert: another terrorist, who holds the President at gunpoint before a lethal scuffle, is Andrew Divoff, known to Lost fans as Mikhail or “Patchy.”

The action itself is taut and suspenseful, much like Die Hard, and refreshingly intelligent. None of the characters make foolish or stupid decisions, and a number of believable precautions and attempts at sabotage and diplomacy are carried out, such that the film carries some sense of realism. The end rescue is particularly intense, even if it is reminiscent of Airport 1975. The effects and explosions are often impressive, though their computer-generated origins are glaring in a few over-the-top scenes, such as the impact in the finale.

Despite frequent violence and language, Air Force One is an edge-of-your-seat actioner that upheld the familiar roles of Harrison Ford as hero and Gary Oldman as diabolical villain. It’s quite the flight. Harrison Ford for President, anyone?

Best line: (President Mitchell) “Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.”

More obvious best line: (President Mitchell, to Egor) “Get off my plane!”

Artistry: 8
Characters/Actors: 9
Entertainment: 10
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 7
Watchability: 10
Other (language, violence): -1
TOTAL: 51 out of 60

Next: #105 – The Green Mile

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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