Television, Movie and Play Reviews
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
AIR FORCE ONE
Starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glen Close, Dean Stockwell, William H. Macy, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Xander Berkeley, Jurgen Prochnow, and David Vadim.
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Ratings: "R" Violence.
Running time: 118 minutes
There is unrest in the new, post-cold war Russia. In particular, a brutal general has seized control of Kazakhstan. Russian and U.S. elite troops raid Kazakhstan and seize General Radek (Jurgen Prochnow - "Das Boot" captain). The U.S. will not, repeat, not tolerate his tyrannical behavior. And the U.S. will not, again, repeat, not negotiate with terrorists. Tough talk from a tough man, James Marshall, President of the United States of America. And he means it...or thinks he does. Once all hell breaks loose on Air Force One, he is forced to reconsider his stance on the issue.
President Marshall (Harrison Ford) is visiting his Russian counterpart as they celebrate the capture and imprisonment of General Radek. Along for the trip is the First Lady, Grace (Wendy Crewson), and daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews). The actress portraying the first lady is adequate, but the young actress portraying the daughter sparkles.
Also along for the return trip from Russia is a gaggle of Russian journalists who just happen to be terrorists out to free General Radek. (If you've seen the movie trailers, this should come as no surprise to you.) Gary Oldman plays the leader of this terrorist band. Although to be honest, his accent and shouting quickly became annoying to me. I no more believed he was a terrorist than I believed Harrison Ford would fail to save the day.
For those of you who insist that a movie should have a recognizable plot, be forwarned. There are plot holes in this film that you could fly a Boeing jet through, if you get my analogy. For starters, the terrorists gain access to Air Force One conveniently enough by killing the real journalists (which no one discovers until it's too late) and then even more conveniently altering the high-tech security system, somehow, to verify that they are said journalists. Let this slide? Okay.
Next up the terrorists don't have to worry about smuggling any weapons onboard because for some reason, the head of the Secret Service detail assigned to this flight is a traitor and gives the terrorists access to the cache of weapons already onboard the plane. (Again, if you've seen the movie trailers, I'm not giving away any secrets here. I would be if I had even the slightest clue as to why this highly respected, veteran Secret Service agent became a traitor in the first place.)
Long after the movie ends, you will still be wondering. Did he do it for money? If so, how much money? Was he in some way related to someone in Kazakhstan? Were rebel troops holding his paternal grandmother hostage? Was he just looking for an adrenaline rush? What? There is no explanation. Not only that. No one onboard seems to figure out that the assault must have been an inside job, if in fact, and we are told that it is a fact...no one can smuggle guns aboard this plane. By the time the true facts come to light, not too many people care.
Now I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I've even seen it several times. I've given up trying to figure out what would cause a Secret Service agent to go bad...
I also enjoyed the lighter moments of the film. I won't spoil any of the humor by mentioning it here.
If you are a fan of Harrison Ford, then you will probably like this movie, despite its many flaws. But don't expext a taut political thriller. Just relax and go along for the sometimes bumpy ride.
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