Air Force One (film)
|Air Force One|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wolfgang Petersen|
|Written by||Andrew W. Marlowe|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Edited by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Box office||$315.2 million|
Air Force One is a 1997 American political 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 positive critical reviews, the film was one of the most popular action films of the 1990s.
An American and Russian Joint Military Operation results with Special Forces capturing General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of Kazakhstan. 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. After takeoff, Secret Service agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), who is secretly a mole, enables Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman) and a batch of Radek loyalists, posing as a news crew who had been cleared to fly on Air Force One, to acquire weapons and storm the plane, killing many of the military personnel before taking everyone else hostage. The terrorists breach the cockpit and prevent the plane from making an emergency landing at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and have it piloted towards Radek-loyal airspace. Korshunov secures Grace and Alice separately from the other hostages.
In Washington, Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), arrives at the White House, taking command of the situation with Secretary of Defense Walter Dean (Dean Stockwell) and other officials. Korshunov contacts Bennett and demands Radek's release, threatening to kill a hostage every half hour.
On Air Force One, Marshall, who has remained hidden in the cargo hold, manages to kill some of Korshunov's men and then uses a satellite phone to make contact with Bennett. Marshall gains access to the conference room where the hostages are being held and he, along with his military advisors devise a plan to trick the hijackers to take Air Force One to a lower altitude for a mid-air refueling, giving time for the hostages to parachute safely off the plane. As a KC-10 tanker docks with Air Force One, Marshall and the advisors escort the hostages to the cargo hold, where most parachute away; Korshunov discovers the deception and forces Air Force One away, causing the fuel to ignite, destroying the tanker.
As Marshall reunites with his family, Korshunov forces him to contact Russian President Petrov (Alan Woolf) and arrange for Radek's release. While Korushunov and his men celebrate the news of Radek's release, Marshall breaks his bonds, kills Korshunov's last two henchmen, and finally kills Korshunov; Marshall lifts his order, and Radek is subsequently killed when he attempts to escape.
Marshall and Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) direct the plane back to friendly airspace, only to be quickly tailed by a second batch of Radek loyalists piloting MiG-29s. Air Force One sustains major damage to the tail, rudder, and elevator, making it impossible to land safely. A standby USAF special operations MC-130 is called to help, sending pararescuemen on tether lines to help rescue the survivors. Marshall's family and Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd (Paul Guilfoyle) are transferred first. When there is time for only one more transfer, Gibbs kills Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) and the pararescueman. Marshall and Gibbs fight for control of the transfer line, and Marshall manages to grab and detach it at the last minute. Air Force One crashes into the Caspian Sea, killing Gibbs. The MC-130 airmen reel Marshall in and announces that it is changing call signs from Liberty 24 to Air Force One, and the film ends with it flying safely away.
- Harrison Ford as U.S. President James Marshall
- Gary Oldman as Egor Korshunov, a Russian Radek loyalist
- Glenn Close as U.S. Vice President Kathryn Bennett
- Wendy Crewson as U.S 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 Special Agent in Charge Gibbs, of Presidential Protective Division.
- William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell, USAF, military aide to the President
- 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, USAF, pilot of Air Force One
- Carl Weintraub as Lieutenant Colonel Ingraham, USAF, 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, USAF, Air Force One Backup Pilot
- Willard Pugh as White House Communications Officer
- Don R. McManus as Lt. Colonel Jack Carlton, F-15 "Halo Flight" Leader
- J.A. Preston as the USAF Major General who was President Marshall's Commanding Officer during the Vietnam War
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.
For the exterior scenes, the producers rented a Boeing 747-146 aircraft, N703CK from Kalitta Air and repainted it to replicate the iconic Air Force One livery. A 747–212B, rented from Kalitta Air, was the title subject of the 1997 film Air Force One, portraying the real 747–200-based VC-25 that transports the U.S. President.
Scenes explaining Agent Gibbs' motivation for being 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 and wanted revenge. He knew the terrorists from his CIA days, so they included him in their operation. The scene was considered too long to tell, so it was cut from the film. The director also felt that it was unnecessary to add in the film so it was removed as it was irrelevant to the plot. He felt its something insignificant that the audience doesn't really need to know about.
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. Ramstein Air Base, Germany was portrayed by Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio.
One of the most popular action films of the 1990s, Air Force One received generally positive reviews from critics, with an overall "fresh" rating of 78% 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."
In a lukewarm review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 and found it flawed and cliché-ridden yet "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." Adam Mars-Jones of The Independent was more critical, calling 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 (though since many Air Force One features are highly classified and "need-to-know", these features cannot be completely ruled out). In the audio commentary, Wolfgang Petersen mused that although the real plane did not have those features at the time of the filming, they would probably be added by future governments.
In December 2015, then presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed his admiration for "Harrison Ford on the plane ... He stood up for America." When Ford was told during a TV interview of Trump's compliment, he turned to the camera and said "Donald, it was a movie."
A Wall Street Journal poll in 2016 named Harrison Ford's James Marshall as the greatest fictional president.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
|Academy Awards||Best Sound Mixing||Doug Hemphill||Nominated|
|Keith A. Wester||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||Richard Francis-Bruce||Nominated|
|ACE Eddie||Best Edited Feature Film||Nominated|
|ASCAP Award||Top Box Office Films||Joel McNeely||Won|
|Bambi Award||Direction||Wolfgang Petersen||Won|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Actor - Action/Adventure||Nominated|
|Favorite Supporting Actor - Action/Adventure||Gary Oldman||Nominated|
|Favorite Supporting Actress - Action/Adventure||Glenn Close||Won|
|Broadcast Music, Inc.||BMI Film Music Award||Jerry Goldsmith||Won|
|Japan Academy Prize||Outstanding Foreign Language Film||Joel McNeely||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Fight||Harrison Ford||Nominated|
|Satellite Award||Best Editing||Richard Francis-Bruce||Nominated|
|Air Force One: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Jerry Goldsmith|
|Released||July 29, 1997|
|Jerry Goldsmith chronology|
Randy Newman was initially hired to write the film score; however, Petersen considered his composition 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 harrowing experience, Goldsmith vowed never again to take on such a last-minute task.
The music label 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, although his cues include the material heard when Air Force One is under attack.[original research?]
The first track of the soundtrack, "The Parachutes", was used by Donald Trump during his campaign for President of the United States in 2016. The song was played in the background at Trump Tower in New York City prior to Trump's victory speech, following Hillary Clinton's concession.
A novelization of the film was published in June 1997 by author Max Allan Collins. Though the book has the same central plot and outcomes as the film, its main storyline has additional scenes and lines than the film. The book develops characters more than the film and unlike the movie, Gibbs's identity as the traitor is not revealed until the end of the book. It also presents a slightly alternate ending; Air Force One crashes in the Russian countryside, whereas in the film, Air Force One crashes into the Caspian Sea.
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