Air Force One (15)

Directed by Wolfgang Peterson
Starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glen Close, William H Macy

President of the United States Harrison Ford is returning from Europe aboard the presidential plane with his family and staff when it is hijacked by terrorists led by Gary Oldman. However, Ford is an ex-marine and gets to play Die Hard and fight the baddies. Meanwhile Vice President Glen Close gets to negotiate and try and hold things together back in Washington. Lots of punch ups, guns, chasing around and aircraft.
This is an action film, of which there are far too many these days. However, it is quite a good action film, and has the benefit of Harrison Ford, about the most reliable movie star around. He never gives a bad performance, probably because he wisely stays within his limits. He is very believable as President, but not quite so convincing in the fight scenes- getting a bit old now to defeat trained terrorists maybe?
Another plus is director Peterson, a classy helmsman who knows how to do confined spaces(Das Boot) and action thrillers(In the Line of Fire). Next strength is the fine supporting cast. Glen Close has oozed class for years, but her role is a bit of a thankless one frankly. Also in there is Dean Stockwell in a small role and William H Macy in a similarly piddling little part. Fine actors all, but rather wasted here.
I like Gary Oldman- sometimes. I don't like Gary Oldman's baddie persona. We have seen it too often, and I though he does it well enough, I felt it was an entirely predictable bit of casting. His Russian freedom fighter terrorist is the usual movie baddie; sadistic but charming, vicious but witty etc etc. I also felt the motives of the baddies was a real throw back to the old anti-commie films, with these stereotyped I-love-Mother-Russia nutters vs the good 'ol US of A. Freedom, Truth and the American way rules OK!
This film was little more than Die Hard, but with an all action President as the hero. Is this what Americans want to see? The film was a big hit in the States. I suppose the combination of Harrison Ford and their leader as action hero is what Americans love. I can't see a British film with a politician as action hero creating much of a splash. Predictable, but quite well executed, but unconvincing baddies. 6/10.

September 1997

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