Air Force One (1997)

Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson
Hijackers seize the plane carrying the President of the United States and his family, but he (an ex-soldier) works from hiding to defeat them.
This late-period Harrison Ford actioner is full of palpable, if not entirely seamless, thrills.
  • Columbia Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 25 Jul 1997 Released:
  • 01 Feb 1998 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Andrew W. Marlowe Writer:
  • Wolfgang Petersen Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

It is what it is......fun6/10
Nonstop action, thrilling suspense, dark humor, and a brilliant concept, this flag waving over the top action adventure was a good two hours in 1997.

The story: Enroute back to the States from Russia, Russian Nationals hijack the President's plane and hold him and his family (as well as most of his staff) hostage aboard Air Force One in order to release a Rouge General captured earlier.

Harrison Ford from his first minute to his last looks comfortable in his Presidential role. That's to say, Ford appears, acts and just plain feels like he should be President. (Come one who saw this movie and wanted him to run). Gary Oldman's performance as the main villain (Ivan) should be up there with the likes of Alan Rickman's Hans from Die Hard and John Malkovich's Leary-Booth-Carney from In the Line of Fire (coincidentally directed by Wolfgang Peterson as well). Glenn Close pulls of the Vice President role with smirks and spunk.

Stars aside I think the supporting cast should get an equal if not harder pat on the back. These guys…and girls…. really made the movie. They're the ones that brought the chuckles and caused gasps. Wendy Crewson (The Good Son) nailed her role with more grace than a first lady has actually shown in the last recallable years. Paul Guilfoyle ("CSI", The Negotiator), was the kind gentle, "best buddy", chief-of-staff, who brought a small smile to your face every time he is on-screen. Xander Berkeley ("24", Terminator 2), plays the chilling secret service agent Gibbs. The lovable William H. Macy plays the good-mannered Air Force Officer who puts himself in harm's way for the President more time than the Secret Service agents do. He just doesn't get enough screen time toward the beginning. And Dean Stockwell will have you cussing under your breath as the power-hungry Secretary of Defense. And it seems that Wolfgang Peterson watched every great Action/Military movie of the past 3 years and hired all those "briefing room generals". For this I applaud him. As for the terrorist, they rival those of Die hard. Cold, stone-faced, funny, smooth, and just plain hateable, they did their job.

The bulk of the movie takes place aboard the Air Force One no kidding eh?). And boy do you believe it. The production designer (Williams Sandell) obviously paid attention to detail, mimicking the real Presidential Aircraft. Small, claustrophobic and believable.

Andrew W. Marlowe's script gets it job done as well. Nothing award winning. It's everything you would expect given the story it has to tell. Couple times it will make you cringe, but again, look what it needs to accomplish.

The late Jerry Goldsmith's score for this movie is a hands down classic. Only having two weeks to score the film after Peterson rejected Randy Newman's work, Goldsmith with the help of Joel Mcneely composed one of the most bombastic, riveting, emotional, suspenseful, and patriotic scores I've heard come out of the film world. It works perfectly with the movie.

A few times your mind is going to be stretch you may have to resort to the "It's just a movie" mindset. Overall its fun. Not a bad way to spend 2 hours. Harrison Ford for President.
Holy Cremoly!1/10
Air Force One features Harrison Ford, Glenn Close, Gary Oldman, Dean Stockewell, and William H. Macy. A dream cast! In the freshest, friskiest, funniest, laugh-out-loudest comedy of the year! Cheer as President Harrison Ford takes on the baddies all by himself – "Right now, he's our only hope". Hiss as Dean Stockwell tries to get Glenn Close to sign away power and "take down Air Force One". Will she sign? Like hell! Sigh with relief when the fax machine stalls, stalls a little longer, and then… just when we'd given up hope… stalls a little longer, and then works! Clap like a whacked-out space cadet on class-a drugs when the fax lady parachutes to safety. Scratch your head a little when you realise that the big plot device of the bad guys having a guy on the inside is of no interest or use whatsoever. Ponder for a long time just why Gary Oldman's character doesn't just shoot the wife and the kid, for crying out loud. Marvel at the advances in special effects technology that can make a plane crash in a big budget movie look like a plane crash in a primitive video game. Thrills! Spills! Drama! Action! Utter, utter, crap!
Fun to watch, if you do not make a big deal out of technical accuracy.7/10
Very entertaining action, once you get past the "believability" problems, i.e., terrorists getting on the plane at all, the plane having an on-board armory, Secret Service agents' inability to shoot accurately, etc.

Acting is good enough that you care about the characters.

As others have noted, the CGI aerial sequences sometimes have the aircraft moving in unnatural or impossible ways, and this is visually jarring. (After the touch-and-go, Air Force One turns a 180 almost like a helicopter) I gave it a 7 out of 10 - not brilliant, but makes for an entertaining evening.
A good action-adventure film with great special effects…7/10
Marshall is the kind of President referred to a change in the U.S. foreign policy… He took a great risk when he stated that America will no longer tolerate any terrorist government… His policy is soon put in practice when he boards his plane on his way home…

Once is in the sky, 'Air Force One' is hijacked and currently controlled by Russian radicals who ask for the release of their leader or they'll execute a prisoner every half hour…

Harrison Ford is the action hero making his way through the plane taking out few terrorists, managing to free several hostages, trying to get to his wife and daughter who are prisoners on board…

Gary Oldman almost steals the show as the head terrorist Ivan Korshunov who takes over the president's plane…

Beautifully directed by Wolfgang Petersen who controls the action with his usual extreme intelligence, building the challenge with captivating, tense sequences from every compartment of the huge aircraft to the White House contingent in Washington…
Air Farce Number One1/10
This movie is intriguing in that it actually presages some of the terrorism realized in the tragedy of 9/11.

That said, the film is mortally flawed with stupid and ridiculous contrivances that make is more of a comic book yarn than having the sophistication of, say, a Tom Clancy novel.

High on the "oh come on get real!" factor:

1. Any White House PressSecretary would be far too astute to let a self-describe TV journalist on Air Force One (AF1). The very first thing they would do is check the reporter's credentials and publication/broadcast record.

2. The spectacle of a 747 jumbo jet careering through an airport on an aborted landing is simply light-years beyond absurd.

3. Why would AF1 have a stash of enough assault rifles to take over a small country? And, with all the gunplay in the passenger cabin there's not one bullet hole in the fuselage?

4. I have it on good authority that Air Force One does have countermeasures, but putting the president in an escape pod – though fundamental to the plot – it just inane. That's the *last* thing you would do with the U.S. President at 30,000 ft.

5. Equally ridiculous is the idea that AF1 conveniently has more parachutes onboard than the Titanic had life preservers. Just as silly is the image of Washington bureaucrats easily jumping off the plane at 15,000 ft.

6. I've been inside an open, stripped-down 747 airframe, there isn't nearly as much room as shown on the cargo deck. There certainly isn't room for a cargo deck vending machine?!

I could go on and on, but this film is another example of filmmakers believing that movies goers are gullible enough to swallow any tall tale for the sake of lots of action shots and melodrama. If you've gonna concoct an action drama tale like this, at least have one foot in reality and plausibility, or otherwise call it "science fiction."