One of Harrison Ford’s better and least-appreciated performances, Air Force One is a thrilling film that makes the most of its action hero star and his unique bond with the movie-loving public. In Air Force One, Ford plays the role of President of the United States. In the same way that it’s near impossible to envision any other actor in the role of Indiana Jones, it’s difficult to envision anyone else as the President in this film. Ford projects the image of such a strong, honorable, and likeable leader that the audience immediately develops a strong attachment to his character. In fact, it’s probably this unique ability to connect with both men and women from every strata of life that makes each Harrison Ford movie a bankable blockbuster.
In the film, first released in 1997, Ford is President James Marshall, a Vietnam vet turned politician who makes it clear in a stunning Moscow dinner speech that America will now pursue a “zero-tolerance” policy on international terrorism (sound familiar?). Boarding Air Force One for the return flight home from Moscow, Marshall is joined by his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson) and his daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews). He’s also joined by a contingent of Eastern European journalists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman).
Unbeknownst to the President and his fellow Air Force One passengers, the foreign men aren’t actually journalists, but an elite team of terrorists bent on taking the President hostage. With a Secret Service agent (Xander Berkeley) among their ranks, Korshunov and his associates maintain intimate inside knowledge of the procedures and safeguards deployed to protect the President on Air Force One. When the agent opens the official weapons cache of Air Force One, his terrorist friends carry out a methodic plan to eliminate the president’s security circle.
But in the midst of ensuing gunfire, an escape pod is jettisoned, and the terrorists harbor the impression they have lost their most important hostage, the President. Nevertheless, they retain an entire plane of valuable hostages including the president’s wife and daughter. As negotiations with the acting Vice-President (Glenn Close) move forward, Korshunov demands the release of General Ivan Radek (Jurgen Prochnow), a communist hardliner who he believes will restore the intoxicating glory of the Soviet Union. Initially, the terrorist demands are met and arrangements are made to release General Radek. But what Korshunov doesn’t know is that President Marshall is still on board Air Force One, having left the escape pod empty, and he’s intent on freeing his family and kicking the terrorists off his plane.
Filled with action and some memorable one-liners, Air Force One is a classic Harrison Ford action thriller along the lines of Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger. In addition, prior to filming Air Force One, the producers were given unprecedented access to the real thing. The result is a film that displays the inner sanctums of Air Force One with stunning accuracy, providing the audience with a glimpse into the actual traveling life of the most powerful man in the world. Overall, this is one movie well worth the time spent, complete with action, suspense, and a bona fide hero.
Britt’s Rating: 7.6/10