This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Air Force One is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: Air Force One (1997) – Rated R for Violence.
“Harrison Ford stars in this high-stakes thriller set in the skies aboard Air Force One, in which Russian terrorists (led by Gary Oldman) conspire to hijack the aircraft with the president and his family on board. The commander in chief finds himself facing an impossible predicament: give in to the terrorists and sacrifice his family, or risk everything to uphold his principles — and the integrity of the nation. Glenn Close co-stars.”
Wolfgang Petersen is an excellent director. He made the classic Das Boot – a film that wonderfully detailed the harrowing and claustrophobic life of a U-Boat crew. He then came to Hollywood and then made the thrillers In the Line of Fire and Outbreak. While Das Boot is clearly his best, this film is probably his second best. Unfortunately he has had some misfires recently (Troy, Poseidon).
As with any good modern action movie, this one begins with an action setpiece. In this case, we have a rapid high-tech snatching of General Radek (Jurgen Prochnow, star of Das Boot).
It is quite difficult to discuss this film without mentioning the obvious influence of Tom Clancy. This thriller is exciting and full of action without being dumbed down. It features (then) state-of-the-art technology and its use by both heroes and villains. These are all Clancy hallmarks.
In addition the film is extremely jingoistic, another Clancy hallmark. Go America!
Harrison Ford is just right here. He is old enough to carry the gravity of the President of the United States while being young enough that his heroics are not outside the realm of possibility.
Gary Oldman chews up the scenery as the hijacker trying to trade for General Radek. He is quite fun to watch. I am quite glad that he learned to tone down his performances when he portrayed Gordon in the two most recent Batman movies.
Glenn Close plays our first female vice-president (Sorry Hilary!), Kathryn Bennett. I know, I know that is as unrealistic as the thought of our ever having a person of color in the White House (they do not call it the White House because of the paint job).
She and Dean Stockwell (as Defense Secretary Dean) have a fun time sparring both with each other and Gary Oldman.
Backing the President up on the plane are Paul Guilfoyle (Captain Brass from CSI) as Chief of Staff Shepherd and the always wonderful William H. Macy as Major Caldwell.
Air Force One was nominated for two Oscars. One was for sound (Con Air was also nominated) and the other for film editing. Titanic won both of them.
Unlike Con Air yesterday, I have no qualms about recommending this intelligent exciting thriller. For those of you watching this on set top boxes, Air Force One is in high definition.
People Watch: Look for Xander Berkeley (George Mason on 24) as Secret Service agent Gibbs. It is a little funny to see him in this as a fair amount of the plot here is recycled later in 24.