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   AIR FORCE ONE (1997) 

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CAST
Harrison Ford
Gary Oldman
Glenn Close
William H. Macy
Dean Stockwell
Wendy Crewson
Liesel Matthews
Paul Guilfoyle
Xander Berkeley
Tom Everett
Jurgen Prochnow

DIRECTED BY
Wolfgang Peterson

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 124 mins.
Rating: R
Official Web Site
Genre: Action

Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Sound.


There's no denying Harrison Ford's ability to open a movie. Since STAR WARS, he has a whole legion of fans willing to pay good movie to see him on the big screen, regardless of whether or not the flick is good. He's certainly not the greatest actor on the block, but he has one of the best track records for picking entertaining material in the modern film world. AIR FORCE ONE is no exception. It's not at all realistic, struggling at times to retain any sense of believability, has plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon and an ending that you have to see to believe. And yet, it was still able to create enough suspense to keep me gripping the edge of my seat. All due to the acting of both Ford and the always interesting Gary Oldman.

The initial take-over of AirForce One by Russian terrorists is frightening and intense. Every fliers worst nightmare. Smoke, gunfire, blood and death are not things you want to see at 30,000 feet. The film then retreats into "Die Hard in the Sky" during the middle section when Ford takes out the bad guys one by one from the storage space below the passenger cabins. "Who's down there? Did the President really leave in the escape pod or could he still be on the plane?" The suspense was just gripping. Not. I would also like to get my hands on the cell phone he had. I wasn't aware they made any that could place a call halfway round the world and with such clear reception. Of course, maybe they're only available to world leaders. There are many inconsistencies at this point in the film, that had me going, "Huh?", but once Ford finally comes face to face with Oldman all critical judgment get pushed aside.

It's great to see one of cinema's consistently crazy actors going mano-e-mano with one of Hollywood's greatest crusaders. Their scenes together are fabulous with neither man giving an inch to the other. No one does righteous and pissed better than Ford. He's such an honest presence you'll wish he really was running the country. Oldman is the ultimate intelligent, psychotic. A dormant volcano about to blow. A chain saw would be required to cut the tension between them. The plot takes a little too long to get to this point, but their struggle for supremacy is worth the wait. The supporting cast is just too large to enable anyone to really shine, though Glenn Close, as the Vice President, and Wendy Crewson, as the First Lady, make the most of their screen time. Close shows women in power can show compassion without sacrificing their strength.


"Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice."

My biggest complaint about the film was it's length...one of my major pet peeve's. An action movie should not be more then 2 hours long. Period. Exclamation point. Action movies are not about character development, they're about tempo, explosions and the good guy whipping the bad guy's ass. Yes, we need compelling reasons to love the hero and hate the villain, but AIR FORCE should have spent more time with them than on all the supporting players, which just shows how little plot there is. It also has a lot of extra footage – the secretary and other hostages parachuting away from the plane, the release of the political leader – that takes away from the one reason audiences are watching: to see Ford beating up Oldman. For a film that mostly takes place on an airplane, Peterson does a good job keeping the suspense up and the action interesting. The stunts are great, except many of them seem to be included merely because they look cool and not for plot value. While not the best Ford or Oldman flick to choose from, their onscreen pairing actually makes it more of a must-see than it might have been otherwise.


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