The movie offers two hours of uninterrupted anxiety.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Anyone who wonders why an actor deserves twenty million dollars for three months of work need look no further than "Air Force One." In a 90s style action thriller full of flying fists, speeding bullets, and enough blood to soak the monogrammed furnishings of the elegant plane, Harrison Ford remains entirely credible. In addition, he unfurls a subtext of honor that may signal a public longing for a return to decency at a time of disgust with elected officials and lack of personal accountability. When was the last time you heard an audience cheer?

After a daring Russian/American capture of a terrorist general in a rogue Russian state, President Jim Marshall (Harrison Ford) departs from his text to deliver a powerful broadside against terrorism to his rapt Russian audience. The force of his own integrity ensures that his words will immediately become official U.S. policy. "Never again will I allow our self-interest to deter us from what we know is morally right." This is a man driven solely by his own determination to do the right thing.

Accompanied by his wife (Wendy Crewson) and daughter (Liesel Matthews), who are both cut from the same fine cloth, the president settles in to wind down on the long flight home. Instead, with a blast of gunfire, the chilling fanatic Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) takes control of AFO, forcing President Marshall to become a real-life counterterrorist on his own plane. Battling the terrorists one by one in defense of his ideals and his family, he manages to practice exactly what he has just preached.

On the ground, vice president Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) runs the war room support team with a welcome lack of personal ambition. She wants this president home safe. She must deal, however, with the Secretary of Defense (Dean Stockwell), who is a delicious caricature of Alexander Haig trying to install himself as acting president.

The unrelenting suspense of this movie is intensified by a heroic soundtrack and a heart-stopping skyscape. In terrific counterpoint to the claustrophobia of the plane and the war room, director Wolfgang Petersen creates a perpetual night sky full of monumental aircraft images--some, lumbering giants, others, whizzing fighter planes. All of them are trying either to attack or save AFO in a sight at once ghastly and beautiful. The fact that everything here is preposterous doesn't matter a whit. The movie offers two hours of uninterrupted anxiety. What more can a thriller lover ask?

In a celebrity culture of spin doctors and Simpsonian sleaze, Harrison Ford suggests deliverance may be at hand. If that seems an improbable message for a suspense thriller, you'll believe it when you see it. Most actors would make this character a cartoon patriot. Harrison Ford makes him a leader who encourages us to feel entitled to expect decency in our leaders, our families, our friends, and ourselves. An actor with that kind of clout is indeed a twenty-million-dollar man.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 494
Studio : Sony Pictures
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h4m

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