Air Force One 
DVD Action-Adventure
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Tuesday, 10 February 1998



title:
Air Force One

studio:
Columbia TriStar Home Video
starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Wendy Crewson, Paul Guilfoyle, William H. Macy, Liesel Matthew, Dean Stockwell, Glenn Close
release year: 1997
film rating: Four stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

Public faith in the President of the United States being what it has been for the past few decades, depicting the Chief Executive as an unambiguous hero might seem like a questionable stroke, but when he's played by Harrison Ford, heck, anybody would vote for him. Cast as a classic good guy, Ford is such an unimpeachable icon of action rectitude and empathy--able to fight like a master soldier and hang on in situations that would kill lesser men, yet still sweat and show fear like the rest of us--that we cheer for him as he brings new meaning to the notion of hands-on crisis.

'Air Force One,' should you somehow have missed last summer's press blitz, is a taut adrenaline-pumper in which the Presidential jet is hijacked by far-right Russian dissidents, who want their genocidal leader released from prison, or else. The President, his wife, young daughter and 50 other passengers are on board. There seems to be no way to effect a ground-to-air rescue, the terrorists are holding all the cards, but this particular President is unexpectedly resourceful.

An aircraft could be a pretty claustrophobic setting for an action film, but Air Force One--as the filmmakers effectively point out--is a plane like no other. Andrew W. Marlowe's script is ingeniously paced, knowing when to throw in a scare, when to tighten the screws, when to get our hopes up and when (and for exactly how long) to show us what's going on back in the White House.

Director Wolfgang Petersen first found fame with the German submarine drama 'Das Boot,' and while 'Air Force One' is in a different genre, he brings similar expertise to bear. As early as Chapter 2, he's got a thrillingly staged and edited kidnaping sequence for us (with a nice twist at the end). The frequent gunfire is well-served by the surround sound, with shots moving nearer and further away as things begin heating up in Chapter 6. Petersen contrasts the brilliant orange of flaming engines with rich, saturated blue night skies for dramatic color contrast that adds extra depth to some beautifully crafted action/effects scenes, like the aerial battles in Chapters 15 and 33.

Primarily, the filmmakers and their stars--including Gary Oldman, who plays the terrorist leader with such zealous conviction that you can almost see the character's point of view--understand that however good the effects are, action thrillers work a whole lot better if you care about the fate of the people involved. There's something irresistible about the notion of the putative most powerful world in the man also being the noblest, canniest and best. While we need to suspend a certain amount of disbelief, the crisis-a-minute pace, ace imagery and the appeal of Ford in top form add up to thorough entertainment.


more details
sound format:
English 2-Channel and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
aspect ratio(s):
2:35:1
special features: French and Spanish Language Tracks; Theatrical Trailer; Chapter Search; Director's Commentary; Widescreen and Full Screen Formats
comments: email us here...
   
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba








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