Air Force One

Bomb Rating: 

The avalanche of incongruities begins in the first few minutes.

Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford in Air Force One

Harrison Ford's challenge in playing the President of the United States in this latest Wolfgang ("Das Boot") Petersen film can be summed up in two words: Stand there.

It's a good thing for Petersen that Harrison Ford is his leading man because, given the level of plausibility in the rest of the film, it's a miracle he didn't go with Matt LeBlanc. The avalanche of incongruities begins in the first few minutes as Petersen sets up a scene involving the capture of General Radek (Jurgen Prochnow), which serves as the incentive for Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) to hijack Air Force One. Working in tandem, KGB and CIA operatives skydive onto Radek's little hideout and grab him, prompting me to wonder: What's plan "B" in case one of Radek's machine-gun-toting right-wing nasties happens to glance skyward?

Korshunov and his gang make their way aboard Air Force One by murdering a news crew that's supposed to interview the President. Even with a mole inside the Secret Service and fake credentials, Korshunov's chances of pulling off this maneuver in the real world would be about as likely as that of a poodle trying to ball a rhino. Once Korshunov gets President Marshall to stop running around the belly of the plane, he makes his demand for Radek's release. Despite the fact that it could lead to the disintegration of Russia and the onset of World War III, the Russian President decides to let Radek go as easily as he would decide to switch brands of deodorant. Korshunov, however, is equally foolish for thinking that this momentary victory means he can now relax with a frosty glass of Stoli and watch the in-flight movie.

Following all the "Das Boot"-in-a-plane shenanigans, Petersen is left with typical action film clich├ęs. There are lots of convenient mechanical failures. Screws come loose at precisely the wrong time. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction shot. And, of course, no villain worth his salt can hold a gun to the head of the President without taking the opportunity to explain all the details of his nefarious plan, giving Marshall enough time to sing the Star Spangled Banner, recite the Constitution, and sign an anti-flag-burning amendment before finally disarming the bad guys and saving the day.

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