Air Force One

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Alex Lau

Harrison Ford as an action hero? Been there, done that. Harrison Ford as the President of the United States? OK, I guess so. Put the two together in the same movie? Now you've got something like "Air Force One", the new action thriller starring Ford as the butt-kicking Commander in Chief.

I've seen all the "Die Hard in a plane" movies in the last year or so: "Con Air," "Turbulence," "Executive Decision." "Air Force One" is easily the most entertaining one so far, and Ford is the main reason why. Can he keep us on the edge of our seats with a character that's not named Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or Jack Ryan? The answer is, yes, indeed. Ford pulls out all the stops, and he shows what "star power" really means. He's able to turn the President into someone that anyone can root for. When's the last time someone was able to do that?

Gary Oldman's Russian right-winger act is actually a little reserved, for him. Then again, almost anything would seem reserved after his schtick as Zorg in "The Fifth Element." But he makes a credible bad guy, and that's what counts. Glenn Close's role as the Vice President really could have been played by almost anyone, but she's still very strong. I don't know if I'd vote for Ford as President, but I just might vote for Close, if only it wouldn't keep her from making more movies.

There's absolutely nothing ground-breaking about this movie, but director Wolfgang Peterson is still able to pull it all together in a very craftsmanlike manner. Almost all of the scenes are paced perfectly, and the one hour, 58 minute running time just flies by. Peterson, who previously directed "In the Line of Fire" and "Outbreak," has to be considered up there with John Woo and Steven Spielberg as one of the finest action thriller directors today.

It all clicks in this film, from Oldman speaking Russian with English subtitles, to Close slamming her palms on the briefing room table in frustration, to Ford punching out another Russian baddie. "Air Force One" is a big winner.

© 1997 Alex Lau Air Date: 7/23/97

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