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Air Force One is a 1997 action thriller film, written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, director of In the Line of Fire. It stars Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, and Glenn Close, and also features Wendy Crewson, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy and Paul Guilfoyle.


With cooperation of American forces through the United Statesmarker President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), Americamarker special forces are able to capture the leader of Kazakhstanmarker, General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow). Before returning to the United States on Air Force One, Marshall makes a speech in Moscowmarker and deems this a new offensive against terrorism. Having visited the Red Crossmarker camps and seen the brutality and atrocity committed against terrorist victims, Marshall vows to take the offensive against the terrorists, and boldly declares "your day is over." The flight starts off smoothly, but soon terrorists who are supportive towards Radek, led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) and posing as a Russian news crew (whom are later found murdered), are able to take control of the plane with help from a mole in the Secret Service, Agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley). Marshall is rushed to an escape pod in the plane's cargo hold, but he refuses to leave, hiding behind the machinery when the pod is launched, luring Korshunov to believe that the President is no longer aboard. Nevertheless, Korshunov attempts to bluff this when he calls Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), demanding the release of Radek. Bennett refuses to cooperate, and soon discovers that Marshall is still aboard the plane and has made contact with the White House. While Marshall could leave the plane undetected, Marshall refuses to leave the hostages, including his wife and daughter and several of his advisors, behind. Marshall is able to kill one of the terrorists, and then initiate a fuel dump, leaving Korshunov to believe a rogue agent is still aboard, and kills one of the hostages and threatens to kill more if he does not give himself up.

Korshunov forces Bennett to agree to a mid-air fueling; Marshall, who has managed to sneak into the room where the hostages have been held after subduing another terrorist, is told by his military advisers that they can parachute all the hostages off the plane if they can get the aircraft low enough. Marshall relays this to Bennett, and the refueling tanker instructs Korshunov to drop to the required altitude. As the plane is refueling, Marshall sneaks the hostages to the cargo hold and out of the back of the plane. Korshunov discovers the deception, forcing Air Force One away from the refueling tanker, causing its fuel line to spark and detonate the fueling plane. Korshunov arrives in the cargo hold in time to prevent Marshall, his family, and his closest advisers from jumping; they are taken to the plane's communication room and tied down. Korshunov reveals to Bennett he now has the President, and demands Radek's release, forcing Marshall to make the request to the Russian President to do so. Bennett's advisers tell her that under the 25th Amendment, she could declare the President to be incapacitated, thus allowing her to override Marshall's command, but she refuses to, believing Marshall to still be in control. As Korshunov watches the ceremony of Radek's release, Marshall is able to free himself, and with his allies, are able to kill Korshunov and the remaining terrorists. Marshall manages to call back to Bennett to announce that the terrorists have been killed in time to stop Radek from leaving the prison facility; Radek and his men are gunned down as they try to make their escape when word reaches Russia.

As Marshall takes over piloting of the plane, at least six Kazakh MiG-29 loyal to Radek take advantage of the situation and attempt to fire upon Air Force One. While one of the escorting F-15 pilots sacrifices himself to block a missile while the other MiGs are dispatched, the damage from the explosion takes out a large part of the plane's controls, causing it to start to fall into the ocean. An Air Force Pararescue C-130 Hercules plane is arranged to help zip-line the remaining passengers from the plane. Marshall insists on going last, making sure his family and advisers are safe. However, Agent Gibbs, still aboard the plane, reveals his true allegiance and attempts to kill Marshall, killing Caldwell (William H. Macy) first when he realizes it. Marshall fights off Gibbs and manages to make it onto the zip line moments before Air Force One plummets into the sea, killing Gibbs. The Pararescue plane reels in Marshall, and announce their success as they change their call sign to "Air Force One". The plane safely returns to American soil as Marshall reunites with his family.



Air Force One received generally positive reviews from critics, with an overall approval rating of 78% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The performance of Gary Oldman was praised, claimed as "flawless and menacing." Conversely, The Independent called it "so preposterous that it begins to seem like a science-fiction artefact.. the product of a parallel-universe 1990s which somehow by-passed the decades since the 1950s."

The film was a major box office success, earning $172,650,002 (54.9%) domestically and $142,200,000 (45.1%) in other countries. It grossed a total of $315,156,409 worldwide in the box office.

Then-President Bill Clinton saw the film twice and gave it good reviews. He noted, however, that certain elements of the film's plane, such as the escape pod and the rear parachute ramp, did not reflect actual features of Air Force One.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards; one for Best Film Editing, the other for Best Sound.


Randy Newman was initially hired to write the film score; however, Petersen considered his version to be almost a parody and commissioned Jerry Goldsmith to write and record a more sombre and patriotic score in just twelve days (with an assist from Joel McNeely). After the harried experience, Goldsmith vowed never again to take on such a last-minute task.


  1. Get me out of here - Air Force One - Review - The Independent

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