Air Force One (1997)


Air Force One is a 1997 American action film written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It stars Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, and Glenn Close, and also features Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell and Paul Guilfoyle. It was rated R by the MPAA for its "intense violence".


A joint special operations mission composed of Russian Spetsnaz and American Delta Force operators capture General Ivan Radek (Prochnow), the dictator of what is deemed to be a "terrorist regime" in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. Three weeks later, James Marshall (Ford), the President of the United States, delivers a different speech than planned while in Moscow at a state dinner. He starts by saying that he doesn't deserve to be congratulated for authorizing the mission to apprehend Radek, citing the horror he felt at the sight of so many refugees fleeing Kazakhstan. Marshall reveals that he only acted because Radek's military buildup threatened American national security. He says that Radek's regime is responsible for the murder of over 200,000 men, women and children, and for over a year, America just sat back and let it happen, issuing meaningless economic sanctions and hiding "behind the rhetoric of diplomacy". He states that "real peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice." He declares that he is changing American policy: political self-interest will no longer stop America from doing what is right and that the capture of Radek is the start of a new offensive against terrorism. Marshall vows that he will never negotiate with terrorists, and that it's their "turn to be afraid." Marshall, his wife Grace (Crewson), daughter Alice (Matthews), much of his Cabinet and his advisers board Air Force One to return to the United States. During their departure, they are unaware that six terrorists loyal to Radek, led by Ivan Korshunov (Oldman), posing as a Russian news crew, have boarded the plane. Shortly after take-off, they are able to overtake the Secret Service forces with help from their mole, Gibbs (Berkeley) in the Secret Service. They seize the weapons from the locker room and take control of the plane. 18 passengers and crew are killed and many are wounded. Agents hustle a reluctant Marshall to the escape pod before Korshunov can capture him. When the flight crew attempts to make an emergency landing at Ramstein Air Base, Korshunov executes the pilots and wreaks mayhem in the base before setting the plane on a course back to Russia. Korshunov gathers the surviving passengers into the conference room and contacts the White House Situation Room, where he speaks to Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Close). He demands that they arrange for Radek's release in exchange for the President's family, saying he will kill one hostage every half hour until Radek is released. He kills National Security Advisor Jack Doherty (Everet). Meanwhile, the viewers find that Marshall is still on board; the escape pod deployed empty. Marshall is downstairs and kills one of Korshunov's men Vladimir Krasin. Korshunov finds out and, thinking the man downstairs is a Secret Service agent, demands through the plane's intercom that the man surrender in ten seconds, or he will kill White House Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell (Bullock). Marshall is indecisive and Mitchell is killed. Marshall is able to contact Bennett via mobile phone, and she learns that he never escaped. Hiding from Korshunov in the avionics bay, he orders them to fire on the plane so he could attack a hijacker, Boris Bazylev, who was holding him at gunpoint. It works as he plans as the hijackers are distracted as they deploy the plane's missile defense mechanisms. Marshall then kills Bazylev. Soon the hijackers realize that their kidnapping attempt has not gone without resistance. While Bennett, the Secretary of Defense Walter Dean (Stockwell), and the Attorney General argue fruitlessly about who has jurisdiction in Marshall's absence, Marshall is able to initiate a fuel dump of Air Force One's fuel reserve. This forces Korshunov to demand a mid-air refueling. Marshall takes terrorist Igor Nevsky captive and is able to sneak back into the conference room where the passengers are being held. Major Caldwell (Macy), an Air Force One crewman comes up with a plan where the refueling tanker will ask the hijackers to drop to an altitude of 15,000 feet, and the hostages can safely escape via parachute. Marshall is able to send a fax transmission to the White House ordering them to carry out the plan. With Nevsky as a hostage, they escort the remaining passengers to the cargo hold to carry out the escape attempt, but are only partially successful in getting some of the hostages to safety before the escape attempt is discovered by one of Korshunov's other men, Sergei Lenski who stops the remaining advisors and the First Family from leaving by shooting a fire extinguisher in the locked door to the tail cone. The resulting depressurization forces the VC-25 to suddenly pull away from the fueling plane starting a fire in the fuel transfer pipe that destroys the KC-10 Extender above, and causing Nevsky and several of the hostages to fall out of Air Force One without parachutes. Following the unsuccessful escape attempt. Korshunov takes President Marshall hostage and threatens to kill his daughter unless he agrees to call the Russian president and request Radek's release. The White House intercepts the call and the Secretary of State organizes an effort where half of the president's cabinet attests to Marshall's incapacity to carry out the office of the President under the terms of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but Bennett refuses to go along with it. As Radek prepares to leave prison, Marshall breaks free and kills the last two of Korshunov's men, including Lenski and the hijackers pilot, Andrei Kolchak. During the ensuing struggle, Secret Service agent Lloyd Sheperd is badly wounded after being shot by the remaining terrorists, and Korshunov drags Marshall's wife down to the cargo bay, where he throws the remaining parachutes overboard, mockingly tells the President that with no one to fly the plane and no parachutes, he has won. His short-lived victory is long enough for Grace to distract him, and President Marshall to attack him. Marshall wraps a strap around Korshunov's neck, pulls the ripcord releasing the parachute which suffocates him before saying "Get out of my plane!", and throwing him overboard. With all of the hijackers dead, Marshall calls Petrov and halts the release of Radek, who is fatally shot while attempting to escape. Joyous celebrations from the White House and Petrov follow after news of Radek's death spreads, and the White House receives word that Air Force one has been retaken. Marshall, a former pilot, takes over the plane hoping to fly to the closest safe airbase, but he learns that six Kazakh MiG-29s piloted by Radek loyalists are in pursuit. Intercepting USAF F-15 fighters fend off the MiG-29s, including one pilot who sacrifices himself to stop a missile from hitting Air Force One. The explosion damages the plane's tail, forcing it into a descent far over the Caspian Sea. It is now badly damaged and impossible to land, and the plane is running out of fuel. An Air Force Pararescue MC-130 Hercules (callsign "Liberty 24") plane is hastily tasked to zip-line Marshall and the remaining passengers from the plane before it hits the water. Marshall insists on first rescuing his daughter, his wife, and the wounded Sheppard. When it's announced that only one more retrieval can be made, Secret Service agent Gibbs pulls out a gun, killing Caldwell and the remaining para-jumper before revealing himself to be the mole who got the terrorists onto the plane. Marshall fights with Gibbs before escaping from Air Force One at the last moment before the plane crashes and breaks up in the Caspian Sea. Agent Gibbs is left aboard and is killed as the plane crashes into the water, and Marshall is reeled aboard Liberty 24, which assumes the call sign "Air Force One" due to the fact that the president is aboard. Following celebrations, fighter jets escort the first family back home.