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Air Force One(1997)
The President of the United States of America, James Marshall, takes a tough anti-terrorist stance and then becomes a hostage himself when Air Force One is taken over by terrorists from Kazakhstan, led by Ivan Korshunov, who demand the release of their fascistic leader General Radek. The President seems to escape from the plane in an emergency capsule yet is actually hiding on board. He silently kills a member of the terrorist group before establishing contact with F-15's to engage the hijacked plane. As passengers escape by parachute, Marshall is captured by Ivan and forced to release General Radek, setting in motion an international incident.
For more about Air Force One and the Air Force One Blu-ray release, see Air Force One Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 30, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson, Paul Guilfoyle, William H. Macy
Director: Wolfgang Petersen (I)
» See full cast & crew
Air Force One Blu-ray Review
This above-average Action flick soars onto Blu-ray with a wonderful lossless soundtrack.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 30, 2009
Real peace is not just the absence of conflict, it's the presence of justice.
Perhaps his last hurrah as a believable leading man, Air Force One features storied actor Harrison Ford (Patriot Games) portraying a rough-and-tumble President of the United States who strongly declares, "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!" What? Oh, wrong fictional POTUS. Sorry. He does, in a roundabout way, say, "Secret Service? I don't need no stinkin' Secret Service!" Indeed, Air Force One features a tough-as-nails President who apparently passes the time on his plane watching Die Hard when college football is out of season. Helmed by veteran Action director and one of the better in the business, Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire), and sporting a strong cast, Air Force One delivers a macho Action movie experience that might not fire on all cylinders but certainly gets the heart pumping for a practically nonstop barrage of escapist entertainment.
Fresh off the success of a joint U.S.-Russian mission to capture a rogue world leader named Radek (Jurgen Prochnow), the President of the United States, James Marshall (Ford), outlines a new strategy for combating evil in the world: the U.S. will no longer play defense but rather seek to eliminate it wherever it may be. On his return flight home aboard Air Force One, the President finds himself in the middle of a gunfight between the secret service and a group of terrorists who boarded the plane under false pretenses. Thought to have fled through an escape pod, the President, unwilling to leave his wife and daughter aboard the plane and at the mercy of violent thugs, secretly remains aboard, choosing to take the fight to the enemy and retake his plane. The terrorist leader, Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker's Dracula), uses a plane full of hostages as pawns in his negotiations with the U.S. Vice President (Glenn Close, The Natural) for the release of General Radek. Executing the hostages one at a time until his demands are met, Korshunov seems to have every angle covered -- except the presence of a determined President with both the skill and determination to save his family and friends.
Air Force One works well primarily because of not only the clear delineation between good and evil but because the main characters are believably written and nicely portrayed. Harrison Ford's President James Marshall seems a man worthy of the office, a no-nonsense tough guy that plays hardball and doesn't flinch when the opposition throws him the high heat. The script creates an aura of toughness about him, his speech as seen at the beginning of the film on a drastic shift in U.S. foreign policy to a more aggressive stance lends credibility to his actions later in the picture. Marshall is depicted as more than an empty suit delivering empty rhetoric, and because of this, not to mention his unseen but spoken-of history of a Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, audiences can embrace the character and believe him to be capable of his heroics mentally, emotionally, and physically. He's portrayed not as a John Matrix bulletproof-style hero but rather as a man motivated by family and conscience, his actions never over-the-top but certainly smart and well-played. On the other side of the ledger, Gary Oldman delivers yet another first-class performance as an unwavering, stoic, belligerent, and highly intelligent adversary who follows through on his threats and is the exact sort of villain that Marshall believes cannot be reasoned with by words but only at the barrel of a gun. Indeed, Air Force One seems to go out of its way to show that taking a no-nonsense approach to combating evil -- even if it means going against the grain, public opinion, or, Heaven forbid, political advisors -- is the only logical course of action when dealing with the bottom-scrapers that would murder and terrorize for their own gain.
Director Wolfgang Petersen uses the film's primary setting, the jumbo jet, to nice effect, creating a cramped and somewhat claustrophobic feel that always adds a fair amount of tension and danger to the film. The shootouts look great and sound even better (the film earning an Oscar nomination for its sound), and despite a rather goofy-appearing special effect at the end of the film that looks more like something out of a Ray Harryhausen movie, the many aerial combat sequences impress. Nevertheless, Air Force One just cannot escape the feel that it's nothing more than a Die Hard clone, though it does manage to surpass the somewhat similarly-themed Die Hard 2: Die Harder in most every area. Though the two films share a basic premise of a group of terrorists seeking the release of an imprisoned world leader, Air Force One betters Die Hard 2 with more intense action, superior acting, steadier direction, and improved pacing. This is probably the film Die Hard 2 should have been. With a few minor changes, particularly substituting McClaine for the President but perhaps still finding a way to focus the action on an in-flight Air Force One, Die Hard 2 may have turned out a bit better. Nevertheless, Air Force One impresses on its own merits, particularly thanks to the efforts of lead actors Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.
Air Force One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Air Force One lands on Blu-ray with a good 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. The image's most noticeable trait is a heavy layer of film grain that covers most every frame. The transfer sports a fair amount of depth throughout, the lengthy interiors of the plane in particular appearing to stretch on deep into the distance. However, much of the transfer seems covered in a slight haze, part of that the smoky corridors of the plane, the result of gunfire and explosions throughout. Still, the hazy appearance minimizes detail and colors in some scenes, but clearer shots exhibit an average level of detail and strong colors. Detail suffices across the board in the better scenes, whether in close-ups of faces, the instrument panels on the plane, or the plush leather seats in the cabin. Likewise, colors appear vibrant in the clear shots, the blues in particular appearing strong and natural in appearance. Blacks occasionally stray into a shade of gray, but flesh tones generally remain constant and strong. Air Force One will certainly never be mistaken for a Pixar Blu-ray, but this transfer reveals a quality film-like appearance that showcases the strength of Blu-ray to recreate a true movie experience in the home.
Air Force One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Air Force One swoops onto Blu-ray with a phenomenally aggressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track impresses with a solid presentation of the score accompanying the opening credits. Jerry Goldsmith's (Hollow Man) music plays to fine effect with crisp highs, a solid midrange, and strong lows from the percussion section. Indeed, the track delivers the goods throughout, the "stand up and cheer" all-American music never missing a beat and the lossless soundtrack delivering each note crisply and precisely. Nevertheless, this mix is all about the action, and it delivers the goods with every single second of non-stop thrills. Surround channels are active throughout, the raid on Radek's palace at the beginning of the film featuring gunfire, shouting, music, the whirling of a helicopter rotor, and environmental atmospherics pouring out of every speaker with no bias towards the front part of the soundstage. It's an all-encompassing experience that perfectly sets the tone for the remainder of the soundtrack. The first gunfight aboard Air Force One delivers a superb blend of action delight, with a broad array of automatic weapons and pistols delivering a wallop, and whether the shots hit flesh or the hull, the impact is felt throughout the listening area. Likewise, the thunderous roar of jet engines swooping about the soundstage engulfs the listener with a devastating load of decibels sure to please and the most hard-of-hearing. As expected, dialogue delivery never falters, whether whispers in a confined space on the plane or echoing words heard reverberating through a cavernous dining hall. Though over a dozen years old, this track remains one of reference quality for its ability to completely immerse listeners and place sound naturally and simultaneously all around the soundstage.
Air Force One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Air Force One sputters onto Blu-ray with only one extra of substance, a commentary track with Michael Coleman and Director Wolfgang Petersen. Recorded for the original DVD release of years past, the track features the director sharing basic information relating to his thoughts on the cast, shooting locations, creating the action sequences, Harrison Ford's stunt work, and plenty more. Also included is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality and 1080p trailers for Damages: The Complete First Season, The International, The Devil's Own, Lakeview Terrace, Vantage Point, Casino Royale, Rocky Balboa, xXx, and 88 Minutes.
Air Force One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
An exciting and well-crafted time killer, Air Force One doesn't redefine the Action movie but it makes for a rather impressive genre picture that hits all the right notes. Featuring skillful aerial stunts, plenty of gunfights, a strong and likable hero, and a purely evil and psychotic villain, Air Force One delivers a thoroughly enjoyable experience that holds up well to repeat viewings. Sony's Blu-ray release impresses from a technical perspective. Featuring a pleasing 1080p video transfer and a full-throttle lossless soundtrack that showcases Blu-ray audio at its most entertaining, home theater enthusiasts will find themselves grinning for 125 minutes of high definition bliss with Air Force One. Unfortunately, the disc lacks much in the way of substantive bonus materials, but the strength of the film and its high definition presentation nevertheless earn this one a hearty recommendation.
Air Force One: Other Editions
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