Air Force One (film)
|Air Force One|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wolfgang Petersen|
|Produced by||Armyan Bernstein
|Written by||Andrew W. Marlowe|
William H. Macy
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith
|Editing by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures
Buena Vista International
|Running time||124 minutes|
Air Force One is a 1997 American action-thriller film written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed and co-produced by Wolfgang Petersen. It is about a group of Russian terrorists that hijack Air Force One. The film stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, as well as Glenn Close, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell, and Paul Guilfoyle. A box office success with generally supportive critical reviews, the film was one of the most popular action films of the 1990s, and sitting U.S. President Bill Clinton praised it.
An American and Russian Joint Military Operation resulted with Special Forces leading the capture of General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of a rogue terrorist regime in Kazakhstan that had taken possession of former Soviet nuclear weapons. Three weeks later, a diplomatic dinner is held in Moscow to celebrate the capture of the Kazakh dictator, at which President of the United States James Marshall (Harrison Ford) expresses his remorse that action had not been taken sooner to prevent the suffering caused by Radek, whose regime took the lives of 200,000 people. He also vows that his administration will take a firmer stance against despotism and that they will never negotiate with terrorists.
President Marshall, along with his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson), daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews), and several of his Cabinet and advisors, board Air Force One to return to the United States. U.S. Secret Service agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), acting as a mole for a group of six Russian Radek loyalists led by the ruthless Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman), sneaks them onto the plane disguised as news reporters. Once in flight, Gibbs kills several Secret Service agents guarding the plane's armory, allowing Korshunov and his men to seize control of the plane. When the attackers start a massive shootout, the pilots attempt to land the plane at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. However, the terrorists breach the cockpit, shoot the pilots, and take control, diverting the plane towards Kazakhstan. Secret Service agents take Marshall to an escape pod in the cargo hold, while the rest of the passengers are taken hostage by the hijackers. Believing the President has escaped, the hijackers separate his wife and daughter from the rest of the hostages, planning to use them as leverage.
At the White House Situation Room, Korshunov contacts Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), threatening to shoot a hostage every half hour until Radek is released. Meanwhile, U.S. and German soldiers locate the escape pod but finds it empty. Unbeknownst to the hijackers, President Marshall, a retired military aviator, Vietnam War veteran, and Medal of Honor recipient, stayed aboard the plane to rescue the hostages. He kills two of Korshunov's men and contacts the White House via satellite phone, imploring Bennett not to negotiate with the terrorists. The hijackers request mid-air refueling after Marshall forces a fuel dump and secures the hostages. Marshall sends a fax to the White House, instructing the tanker to force the plane to drop altitude so the hostages can parachute to safety without suffocating due to low oxygen. However, the terrorists discover the escape attempt and Korshunov forces the plane away from the refueling tanker, causing the fueling probe to ignite, destroying the tanker. Marshall and the remaining advisors are captured.
With Marshall and his family held hostage, Ivan tortures Marshall and explains his actions, saying that the collapse of the Soviet Union had ruined his country. Bennett is forced to contact Russian President Petrov to endorse Radek's release. Korshunov and his men celebrate as the event is broadcast over the plane's speakers, and Marshall escapes. While Marshall shoots down the remaining terrorists, Korshunov takes Grace to the plane's parachute ramp, but is interrupted by Marshall. Korshunov loses his weapon, and is strangled to death with the parachute chord. Marshall then halts Radek's release, and Radek is fatally shot attempting to flee custody.
Marshall directs Air Force One towards friendly airspace, unaware that MiG-29s piloted by another batch of Radek loyalists follow them. Escorting U.S. F-15s counterattack and drive off the planes, but Air Force One's fuel tank is ruptured and therefore unable to land. Marshall pilots Air Force One out toward the Caspian Sea to prevent civilian casualties, and a nearby patrolling U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130E Combat Talon is called in to rescue Marshall and the others via zip-line. After his family and the injured Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd (Paul Guilfoyle) are evacuated, Marshall, Gibbs, and Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) remain on the plane, with time for only one to be rescued. Gibbs, revealing that it was he who aided the terrorists in hijacking Air Force One, shoots the rescuer and Major Caldwell, and attempts to save himself on the last remaining zip-line. Marshall overpowers him and attaches himself to the line – before the hook attaching it to the plane breaks off – and the plane runs out of fuel and crashes into the water and breaks up, killing Gibbs.
The MC-130E crew reel in the President, thus making the MC-130E Air Force One.
- Harrison Ford as U.S. President James Marshall
- Gary Oldman as Ivan Korshunov, a Russian Radek loyalist
- Glenn Close as U.S. Vice President Kathryn Bennett
- Wendy Crewson as First Lady Grace Marshall
- Liesel Matthews as First Daughter Alice Marshall
- Dean Stockwell as U.S. Defense Secretary Walter Dean
- Elya Baskin as Andrei Kolchak, Korshunov's best friend and pilot
- Levan Uchaneishvili as Sergei Lenski, Korshunov's henchman
- David Vadim as Igor Nevsky, Korshunov's henchman
- Andrew Divoff as Boris Bazylev, Korshunov's henchman
- Ilia Volok as Vladimir Krasin, Korshunov's henchman
- Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd
- Xander Berkeley as U.S. Secret Service Agent Gibbs
- William H. Macy as Major Caldwell, President Marshall's loyal Air Force advisor
- Alan Woolf as Russian President Petrov
- Tom Everett as U.S. National Security Advisor Jack Doherty
- Jürgen Prochnow as General Ivan Radek, the dictator of Kazakhstan
- Donna Bullock as Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell
- Michael Ray Miller as Colonel Axelrod, pilot of Air Force One
- Carl Weintraub as Lieutenant Colonel Ingraham, co-pilot of Air Force One
- Spencer Garrett as White House Aide Thomas Lee
- Bill Smitrovich as General Northwood
- Glenn Morshower as U.S. Secret Service Agent Walters
- David Gianopoulos as U.S. Secret Service Agent Johnson
- Dan Shor as Notre Dame Aide
- Philip Baker Hall as U.S. Attorney General Andrew Ward
- Richard Doyle as Colonel Bob Jackson, A.F.O. Backup Pilot
- Willard Pugh as White House Communications Officer
- Don R. McManus as Colonel Jack Carlton, F-15 "Halo Flight" Leader
- J.A. Preston as White House General
A large part of the crew took a tour of the real Air Force One before filming. They based some of the film's scenes, where the terrorists disguised as journalists survey the plane's layout and begin to take their seats, on the touring experience. The character of Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell was based largely on their real life tour guide, and the crew felt uncomfortable having to film the character's execution by the terrorists.
Scenes explaining why Agent Gibbs was the mole were cut from the final script. According to director Wolfgang Petersen, Gibbs was a former CIA agent who lost a lot after the end of the Cold War and thus became angry with the American government. The hijackers never reveal to anyone Gibbs' true identity, to the point where they also tie him up along with President Marshall, Major Caldwell, and Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd.
Gary Oldman did not stay in character between the scenes. The director later said he called the filming experience 'Air Force Fun' because of how comic and genial Oldman would be off-screen. He also said that Oldman would suddenly return to the menacing film persona like a shot.
General Radek's palace, seen in the film's opening, was portrayed by two locations in Cleveland, Ohio: the exterior was Severance Hall, and the interior was the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. The Russian prison where Radek was incarcerated was the Ohio State Reformatory, previously seen in The Shawshank Redemption.
Air Force One received generally positive reviews from critics, with an overall "fresh" rating of 79% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film 3.5/4 stars, describing it as "superior escapism", and concluding, "Air Force One doesn't insult the audience. It is crafted by a film-maker who takes pride in the thrills and sly fun he packs into every frame. Welcome to something rare in a summer of crass commercialism: a class act." Todd McCarthy of Variety described the film as "a preposterously pulpy but quite entertaining suspense meller" that is "spiked by some spectacularly staged and genuinely tense action sequences." He lauded the film's antagonist: "[Gary] Oldman, in his second malevolent lead of the summer, after The Fifth Element, registers strongly as a veteran of the Afghan campaign pushed to desperate lengths to newly ennoble his country."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, writing, "The movie is well-served by the quality of the performances...Air Force One is a fairly competent recycling of familiar ingredients, given an additional interest because of Harrison Ford's personal appeal." Conversely, Adam Mars-Jones of The Independent called it "so preposterous that it begins to seem like a science-fiction artifact...the product of a parallel-universe 1990s which somehow by-passed the decades since the 1950s."
The film was a major box office success, earning $172,650,002 (54.9%) domestically and $142,200,000 (45.1%) in other countries It grossed a total of $315,156,409 worldwide in the box office. It was the year's fifth highest-grossing film worldwide.
President Bill Clinton saw the film twice while in office and gave it good reviews. He noted, however, that certain elements of the film's version of Air Force One, such as the escape pod and the rear parachute ramp, did not reflect features of the actual Air Force One. In the audio commentary, Wolfgang Petersen mused that although the real plane did not have those features at the time of the filming, it would — according to him — probably be added by future governments.
Randy Newman was initially hired to write the film score; however, Petersen considered his version to be almost a parody and commissioned Jerry Goldsmith to write and record a more sombre and patriotic score in just twelve days, with assistance from Joel McNeely. After the harried experience, Goldsmith vowed never again to take on such a last-minute task.
Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album featuring Goldsmith's music (McNeely receives a credit on the back cover for "Additional Music in the Motion Picture", but none of his work is on the CD).
- The Parachutes (5:14)
- The Motorcade (2:40)
- Empty Rooms (4:02)
- The Hijacking (7:30)
- No Security (2:59)
- Free Flight (4:41)
- Escape From Air Force One (5:25)
- Welcome Aboard, Sir (2:06)
On August 11, 2012, American congressman Paul Ryan was introduced as the Republican vice presidential running mate by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to the score of Air Force One in Norfolk, Virginia.
- Wolfgang Petersen audio commentary.
- "Local crew called on to defend 'Air Force One|(film),'" Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, 13 July 1997, p. 1B.
- "Air Force One Movie Reviews, Pictures — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Travers, Peter. "Air Force One". Rolling Stone. July 25, 1997. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- McCarthy, Todd. Air Force One. Variety. July 26, 1997. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger. "Air Force One". Chicago Sun-Times. July 25, 1997. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Mars-Jones, Adam (September 11, 1997). "Get me out of here - Air Force One - Review - The Independent". London. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "G.I. Jane' Proves Its Mettle in Second Week at Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. September 2, 1997. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- "Air Force One — Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information — The Numbers". The Numbers. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "The Dark Side of Gary Oldman. "Air Force One (1997)"". Garyoldman.twistedlogic.nl. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "The 70th Academy Awards (1998) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- Southall, James. "Jonathan Broxton, Air Force One (rejected score) (review) from Movie Music U.K., 1998". Moviemusicuk.us. Retrieved August 21, 2009.[dead link]
- ""Air Force One (rejected score)" (review) from Soundtrack Express, 1998". Soundtrack Express. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "Christian Clemmensen, "Air Force One (review) from Film Tracks, 1997". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "Newman: Toy Story 3". movie-wave.net. 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- "Air Force One Movie Gallery". Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- "Air Force One as Political Communication". Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- Film Scouts (1999). "Air Force One: About The Production". Film Scouts. Film Scouts, LLC. Retrieved January 6, 2000.
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- Air Force One at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Air Force One at the Internet Movie Database
- Air Force One at the TCM Movie Database
- Air Force One at Rotten Tomatoes
- Air Force One at AllMovie