Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stuart Baird|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$122.1 million|
Executive Decision is a 1996 American action thriller film directed by Stuart Baird in his directorial debut, and stars Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, David Suchet and John Leguizamo. It was released in the United States on March 15, 1996.
Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis leads an unsuccessful Special Forces raid on a Chechen mafia safe house in Italy to recover a stolen Soviet nerve agent, DZ-5. Shortly after, Oceanic Airlines Flight 343, a Boeing 747-200 leaves Athens, Greece, bound for Washington, with U.S. Senator Mavros onboard. Nagi Hassan, lieutenant of the imprisoned terrorist leader El Sayed Jaffa, and his men hijack the flight, demanding Jaffa's release.
Dr. David Grant, a consultant for the U.S. Army's intelligence community, attends a black-tie ball but is interrupted and summoned to a meeting at the Pentagon to plan an operation to retake the plane. Grant disbelieves Hassan's demands, thinking he engineered Jaffa's capture and plans to use the plane to detonate a bomb loaded with the DZ-5 gas over U.S. airspace in a suicide mission. In the meantime, a suicide bombing destroys a London hotel. The Pentagon authorizes a mid-air transfer of an Army special operations team onto the hijacked airliner using the experimental airplane "Remora F117x". Grant and DARPA engineer Dennis Cahill join Travis' team to intercept the plane.
The Remora docks with the 747, but the mid-air boarding is only partially successful due to turbulence: Sergeant Campbell “Cappy” Matheny is seriously injured in the tunnel with a skull fracture, and Grant boards the plane to assist. The 747 pulls up to escape the turbulence, putting too much stress on the sleeve, and Travis sacrifices himself by closing the 747's hatch before it decompresses, where the stealth craft is torn off and crashes. The survivors - Grant, Cahill, Cappy, Captain Carlos “Rat” Lopez, Sergeant Louie Jung, and Michael Baker - only have half their gear and no communications equipment, leaving the Pentagon unaware of their survival. With limited options, the commandos conduct a covert search for the supposed bomb. Grant accidentally compromises himself to a flight attendant, Jean, but successfully recruits her despite Hassan's suspicions.
The team locates the bomb, and Cappy, despite his injuries, guides Cahill in disarming it. They believe the bomb is secured when Cappy discovers that it's arming device has an additional, remote-controlled trigger. U.S. officials release Jaffa to try and resolve the situation, who calls Hassan from a private jet to tell him he is on his way to Algeria, but Hassan abruptly ends the call. Grant and the others realize Hassan's men don't know about the bomb and his true intentions, shooting one of them dead after he rebukes him, which means that one of the passengers is a sleeper agent and the trigger man for the bomb. Jean spots a man with an electronic device and informs Grant. Mavros is called to speak to the President of the United States, only to realize he is to be sacrificed as a warning that Hassan is serious, and is executed by Hassan. The soldiers use the plane's taillights via Morse code to signal escorting U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat jets that they are on board, requesting an extra ten minutes despite already crossing into US airspace.
Grant enters the passenger cabin with Jean to take the suspected individual by surprise, but he turns out to be an innocent passenger with stolen diamonds. Grant spots the real sleeper: Jean-Paul Demou, the bomb's creator. Hassan shoots Rat, attempts to fire at Grant, but is shot by both Rat and an on-board federal air marshal, and the commandos storm the cabin as a firefight ensues. Stray bullets break passenger windows, causing explosive decompression which blows several passengers and Demou out of the plane. The terrorists are killed during the exchange, and the bomb is disarmed, as the plane regains stable flight at a lower altitude. In a last act of desperation, Hassan shoots at the cockpit and surrounding area (killing both pilots and damaging the controls, hoping the plane will crash) before being shot and killed by Rat.
Grant assumes control of the 747 and attempts to land it at Washington Dulles International Airport despite his limited piloting experience. He misses the approach, forcing him to go around. Grant recognizes the area surrounding Frederick Field, where he normally practices flying. Deciding to land the 747 there, Grant makes a sloppy but safe landing into a sand berm at the runway's overrun area with Jean's assistance, where the passengers are safely evacuated. Grant is saluted by the team for his leadership, before he is summoned by the Pentagon and invites Jean to accompany him.
- Kurt Russell as Dr. David Grant, US Army Intelligence
- Steven Seagal as Lieutenant-Colonel Austin Travis, US Army
- Halle Berry as Jean, Flight Attendant
- John Leguizamo as Captain Carlos "Rat" Lopez, US Army
- David Suchet as Nagi Hassan, Co-chief of the Extremist Organization
- Oliver Platt as Dennis Cahill, Aeronautic Engineer
- Joe Morton as Sergeant Campbell "Cappy" Matheny, US Army
- BD Wong as Sergeant Louie Jung, US Army
- Len Cariou as Secretary of Defense Charles White
- Whip Hubley as Sergeant Michael Baker, US Army
- Andreas Katsulas as El Sayed Jaffa, Chief of the Extremist Organization
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Allison
- Marla Maples as Nancy
- J. T. Walsh as Senator Mavros
- Nicholas Pryor as Secretary of State Jack Douglas
- Ingo Neuhaus as Doc
- William James Jones as Catman
- Charles Hallahan as General Sarlow, US Army
- Richard Riehle as Airline Marshal US Air Force George Edwards
- Ken Jenkins as General Wood
- Jay Tavare as Nabill
- Christopher Maher as Terrorist
- Ray Baker as 747 Pilot
- Michael Milhoan as 747 Co-Pilot
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 64% of 39 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 6/10. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Leonard Maltin called it "a tense, inventive thriller" which needed more editing. Leonard Klady of Variety wrote, "The picture's logic may be a bit fast and loose, but its action-and-excitement quotient is top-notch." Roger Ebert rated it 3/4 stars, calling it "a gloriously goofy mess of a movie".
- "Executive Decision". The Numbers. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
- "Executive Decision (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
- Maltin, Leonard (2014). Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780698183612.
- Klady, Leonard (1996-03-10). "Review: Auds Likely to Decide in Favor of 'Executive'". Variety. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
- Ebert, Roger (1996-03-15). "Executive Decision". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
- Wilson, John. "1996 Razzie Awards". Golden Raspberry Awards. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2014-09-27.