On the surface Air Force One looks like a formula film, “Die Hard on a plane.” But, as the movie starts, we see that it is different, though not much, from the formula.
Harrison Ford is the President of the US, James Marshall. And as the name somewhat suggest, he is somewhat like a cowboy.
In a team effort between the US and Russia, the leader of rebellious Kazakhstan is captured. The President is in Moscow giving a speech and taking a stand against terrorism. After the speech, the President boards Air Force One and this is where the fun starts.
The movie opens with the capturing of the Kazakhstan leader. This sequence opens the film with a bang, and sets the mood for the rest of the film. The film is packed with action, and surprisingly, most of it is well done and takes place on Air Force One. This is surprising because of the tight quarters that the surrounds the action. Some sequences that are of the wow-factor are the refueling plane, the many gunfights, the C-140 sequence, and the sequences with the F-15s.
As the plane is being hijacked, the President is put into an escape pod and ejected. But this would be too easy of a solution. The President, with the motivation to save his wife and daughter, stays on the plane, unbeknownst to the terrorists.
Gary Oldman plays the terrorist. He is a hard communist and wants to reinstate Communism to Russia. He and a team of men take over Air Force One and threaten the Vice President (Glenn Close) and Defense Secretary (Dean Stockwell). Their threat is that if the leader of Kazakhstan is not released, then one hostage will be eliminated each half-hour. The story moves quickly, and the action is spectacular. There are some minor details that bugged me, but not much. The terrorists are near blind and the President has a great shot. The load of weapons on Air Force One is incredible and somewhat easily accessible. And for one minor character we never do learn his motivation.
Ford, like always, is a joy to watch. He gives a great performance in Air Force One. Oldman does a good job at his part also. He is as much, and maybe a little more intense than Ford. Wolfgang Petersen, who directed Clint Eastwood in The Line of Fire, does a great job of building tension and creating dazzling action. There is one character, which I won’t name, that is like the wrench in the wheel. And this character lives almost to the end of the movie. All of this time making you wonder what the character is going to do. I loved how this character was used, although sparingly, in the film.
Air Force One is a late comer to the summer action movie territory, but it makes up for this by being one of the most exciting films of this summer. The action in Air Force One never really goes into the yeah-right category, but is always in the wow-and-ouch category. Air Force One is a must-see movie. And when you walk out of the theatre, you too will be saying like me, “I’m proud to be an American!”