With TV blowing up right now with political shows — Veep, Scandal, 1600 Penn, House of Cards, Parks and Recreation, et al. So why not dig up the best-worst political drama in the spirit of all of this red, white and blue fascination?
I can’t watch, reflect and then write about this. So the style of this review is going to have to be blow-by-blow reactions, like when I watch The Bachelor.
Right from the beginning, you can tell Air Force One is going to be jam-packed full of action. For a reason that I kind of missed, the movie opened with lots of gunfire and people parachuting down onto a roof, which then blows up. Setting: Russia.
So all that is known about this movie is that it has something to do with the United States versus Russia. Basically, all that is needed for a great movie premise in the 90s, see: The Saint with Val Kilmer.
Anything I have to say about Harrison Ford in the beginning of this movie would be disrespectful to his imaginary office.
When we first meet him, he is giving a speech to a Russian party. He is giving a speech and goes rogue by throwing basically pulling the whole, pushing his speech aside and speaking from his presidential heart, and everyone starts cheering. Already, the stage is set: best President ever. As if Harrison Ford could be anything less.
Clearly, he is a moral, but heart-heavy leader. Thus, damn sexy.
“Real peace is not just the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice,” he says. Oh you fine, moral man.
From this he goes on about never negotiating with terrorists. Real 90s classics don’t mess around – they hard core foreshadow. Sidebar: Ford’s presidential hair is JFK swoon-worthy swoopy. Hitting just the right tone with that.
“It’s the right thing to do – and you know it.” Totally clear now: Harrison Ford is a flawless, morally-driven president. But what will he do when faced with the ultimate moral challenge – his family, or the country he serves?
For now, he knows nothing is going to go wrong, jauntily stepping onto the super badass Air Force One. “Change of plans, Danny. Lets go to Barbados,” he says to the pilot.
President Harrison Ford, you are so funny.
He sits down to watch the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Why does ND always get name-dropped on film? It’s President Bartlet’s alma mater in The West Wing, also Brad Pitt’s in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I’m not complaining, just wondering.
The real news though is that he is watching the game on a really crappy TV, so it must be 1997. It’s built into the wall though, so…I guess that is supposed to convey the fanciness.
Cut to the President just being a normal dad. His daughter just wants to be allowed to see refugee camps with her dad, like any young girl! But the point is, she’s growing up, he’s a dad just like any other — we get it. Drinking a beer, loves his wife.
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Not only are we dealing with Russians here, we’ve got a rogue agent. Shooting everywhere, people dropping like flies. Pretty sure that many people aren’t even allowed on the real Air Force One, it’s like a crowded mall in there.
People are falling down all over the place as the President is shoved down a hallway by Secret Service agents, past his wife and daughter (his daughter is 12, shouldn’t she know not to run and open a door towards the sound of gunfire?)
Just as the two agents are shot to death, the President is shoved into – no joke – an escape pod. Which begs the question, does Air Force One really have a bullet-proof escape pod?
No matter, because as we see it deploy, Russians cursing as they have lost their big bargaining chip and running off, we see the top pop open, and out comes Ford, ready to kick some Ruski ass. No one knows he is on board, so the next half-hour is full of fun, sneak attack fighting.
Speaking of kicking ass, here comes Glenn Close into The Situation Room. Also fantastic casting. If, before I had seen this movie you’d asked who would be the best possible person to cast as VP, it would be her. With second place going to Sigourney Weaver.
Fun fact from an Air Force One documentary I watched: there are always two pilots, an engineer and a navigator on board. So that’s how I know this movie is really going to be a stickler for accuracy, as they are all accounted for in the locked cockpit as the terrorists try to break in, attempting to land the plane. Soooo close. Just as the plane lands, dynamite busts it open, they all die. Bummer.
Russian terrorist, who is apparently a pilot, runs in and turns the plane around…after it’s already landed on the tarmac. Because I bet that is totally possible with that big ass plane. It also barely clears another plane, getting up in the air suspiciously quickly.
Anyways, back to the action inside the plane: Harrison Ford pops out of a secret hatch in the ground like a damn prairie dog. Apparently that’s going to become a thing for his character.
Always a good movie when someone drops the term “mother Russia” with absolute seriousness. But onto a great comedic relief moment — the President finds a working phone, but doesn’t know the number for the White House and has to go through the operator.
“Listen to me – you know who I am. I’m the President of the United States,” he says, tie loosened, hair mussed and with a sexy bloodied lip.
He eventually manages to get through, but only right before the phone is cut off. He warns those in The Situation Room and makes a risky suggestion no one has thought of, and no one wants to take. Give into the terrorists demands of refueling the plane in mid-air (a real thing Air Force One can do, thanks Nat Geo documentary) so the plane will descend and Harrison Ford can get people off by jumping with the parachutes stashed on-board. Um, OK. They all start looking around at each other with that, “uhh well I’m not gonna…” and Glenn Close has to roll her eyes at these boys and be a total badass by saying firmly,”your Commander-in-Chief has issued a direct order.”
Right before the phone cuts out, President Harrison Ford gives his final dramatic message: “Catherine, if you give a mouse a cookie” and she finishes knowingly, “he’s gonna want a glass of milk.” Of course Mr. President. Thanks for breaking that down for us. We get it, America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.
He’s getting ready to make his move and fight back, but before he does that, he…puts his jacket back on because…he wants to continue to look presidential. What, is he supposed to fight Russians looking like a common bartender?
So Harrison Ford has gathered up most of the people on the plane and continue his plan is to…jump. Out of it. They have a limited amount of parachutes and so…I have know idea. Really Pres HF? They don’t even know where they are — they could be over the ocean. A few people jump out with parachutes, and oh look! They’re having so much fun! Gently floating down to earth, which has now been revealed to somewhere around Kazakhstan.
Oh shiz. Trouble. Damn, it couldn’t just be that easy! Parachuting from 1500 feet into Kazakhstan would be getting away too easy. Now people without parachutes are literally sliding out of the back of the plane. Oh this escape plan has just gone to hell, Harrison Ford is dangling from the back of the plane and OH MY INDIANA JONES THERE IS A FIERY EXPLOSION BENEATH THE PRESIDENT, who is still dangling at 1500 feet. I guess refueling at the same time as trying to escape was not a good idea. William H. Macy, who I think I forgot to mention is also in this movie, saves the President and pulls him up, earning himself the badass award along side VP Glenn Close.
“Let me save him! He’s the president!” he cries to the Russians, who smartly answer,”Ok, go get him.” I mean, it’s a bonus for them he’s even on the plane so…they’re not putting their necks out.
Bummer side of this failed escape mission is that the Russians now know they have the President, and they bring him to the communications room. I think — this area wasn’t in the documentary I saw. Shit. He’s glaring right into the eyes of the man who is holding his family hostage. This. Is. So. Intense.
The President is formulating a plan. Oh yeah, he’s got a piece of glass. Everything is going to be OK.
“You have given my country to gangsters and prostitutes. There is nothing left,” the leader of the Russian rebels says passionately. He might have a point there. We do tend to do that sometimes.
The Russian leader starts threatening the President’s family. Oh no, for the first time he’s breaking a little. That’s fine, a real man only cries when a Russian terrorist is holding his plane hostage and has a gun to his daughter’s head.
Cut to Glenn Close ordering around the Situation Room like a boss. She is so classy it’s blowing my mind right now. The Russians have demanded the White House call up the Russian government and ask for the release of a very bad Russian criminal.
Wow, cut to the Russian guy they’re wanting to release — he has VERY blue eyes. If I didn’t know he must be a terrible person, I would say he was crazy attractive. Side note: Russian prisons look disgusting.
The First Lady could really do something right now. She’s been pretty ineffectual so far. Oh God. Now she’s just causing a bunch of problems. Whoop – Harrison Ford handled it, just took control back of the plane, shouts, “get off my plane!” in a way that makes me feel really kick-ass and American.
Uh-oh. Now we’re racing against the clock to call the Russian government and get them to stop the release of that bad, sexy Russian general and put him back in jail! Oops. He is dead — that was quick.
OH NO! I forgot about the traitor who is still there! And there’s a mig, whatever that is, closing in on Air Force One! Whew, I thought this movie was starting to wind down, apparently not.
“Guys, I might have to maneuver this thing. Take it off autopilot,” says Harrison Ford intensely. “These migs, how close are they?” Missal lock detector goes off. “Nevermind,” he says with wry determination.
Fighter pilots are on their way back to the plane, ordered to use any and all force to defend the President. The forth engine is on fire! Shit! Damn there are a lot of explosions in this movie.
Cavalry has arrived. Or as Harrison Ford put it, “Good guys are here.”
“Not so fast you son of a bitch,” a kind of blase way to say they’re clear of the migs. Oh dear. Air Force One is so badly damaged, and there’s no way they can land. Something about rudders.
Ok…so the way they have decided to solve the problem of not being able to land the plane is to have a guy linked from one plane to Air Force One, jump on the hood of Air Force One. They basically have a zip line attached to from one plane to another. That sounds fun.
Lost another engine! That is a total three of four engines totally dead and/or on fire now. Shit. There is only have time for one more passenger, obviously the President, a hard choice to make, made easier by the fact that William H. Macy is shot by the traitor, who still lives – but not for long.
Oh no – the hook fell out of Air Force One! The president is literally swinging from between the two planes like a yo-yo walking the dog. Oh, holy green screen.
Whew, the President and his family survived. Literally flew off into the sunset. I guess we’re just supposed to forget about the people who fell out of the plane over Kazakhstan, some with parachutes, some without? Maybe they’re going back to pick them up.
Movie ends with a dramatic salute from one soldier to the President of the United States. In spite of the ludicrous insanity that movie just was, I feel the swelling of patriotism. Only in America could we insult our highest office with such a wonderfully terrible movie.