Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/14/98
Air Force One
1997 (1997) -
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
Excellent, non-stop action and good fun.
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Solid disc features and superb quality. Among the better DVDs yet
Overall Rating: A
Don't miss this disc. A must-have for DVD fans.
125 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full
frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, Amaray keep case packaging, audio
commentary by Wolfgang Peterson, theatrical trailer, film-themed
menus, scene access (35 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 &
2.0), French (DD 2.0), Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French
and Spanish, Close Captioned
Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman square off at 30,000 feet in this
terrific actioner about the hijacking of the First Plane. The
President (Ford), while on a visit to Moscow, has just placed the
bad guys of the world on alert - the U.S. will no longer tolerate,
or negotiate with, terrorists. But wouldn't you know it, a group of
Russian radicals posing as a TV news crew (and lead with great zeal
by Oldman), has managed to hitch a ride on the President's return
trip. Shortly into the flight, the bad guys (with the help of a
traitorous Secret Service Agent) manage to wrest control of the 747,
and take the First Family and forty other passengers hostage. But
the President, now a stowaway on his own plane, engages in a
high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse to prove that he can back up his
tough talk, and save the lives of those closest to him.
As with all action films, Air Force One
requires some suspension of disbelief by the audience. Could
terrorists really get aboard the President's plane, even with inside
help? Unlikely. And why did that Agent go bad anyway? We'll never
know. But, Ford is entirely believable as the President (don't you
just wish we really had a guy this cool in the White House?). Back
in Washington, Glenn Close is equally good as the VP. And the leads
are backed by a solid supporting cast (including William H. Macy of
Fargo fame), the deft
direction of Wolfgang Peterson (In the
Line of Fire, Das Boot,
Outbreak) and nail-biting
aerial effects sequences that keep the action fast and furious until
the very end. My only complaint about Air
Force One (aside from one effects shot, which you can
probably guess, but which I won't name for fear of giving away the
ending) is this - how in the world will Harrison Ford ever go back
to his Jack Ryan role in the Tom Clancy films after playing the
President of the United States?
As far as disc quality, Air Force One
rates highly. The picture quality is excellent, aside from a bit of
minor artifacting seen occasionally in the night time clouds, and a
few brief shots of the plane on the ground in Moscow (usually
involving blue-green tints which MPEG 2 has difficulty encoding).
Side A is presented in 16x9 anamorphically-enhanced widescreen (a
necessity for any excellent DVD), which down-converts nicely to
2.35:1 letterbox for regular TVs. Side B contains a full frame
version, for those who prefer it (the film was shot in Super 35 and
matted for theatrical release, so while the full frame version is a
different viewing experience, it does not have the usual 'pan &
scan' feel). The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is every bit equal to
the picture (check out the surround during the fighter battle if you
doubt me!). The 2.0 Pro Logic sound is also good, if lacking in
surround depth, and additional sound is available in French and
Spanish. Subtitles come in English, French and Spanish. The
interactive menus are visually pleasing and reflect the film poster
artwork. 35 Chapters are available. Total Running Time is approx.
125 minutes. And for serious film buffs, a theatrical trailer (of
good quality) is available on the disc, as is an interesting
commentary track by director Wolfgang Peterson. If you've never
listened to a director's track on a movie before, you should now.
Some directors are better at it than others, and Peterson is among
the best. You can tell he simply loves talking about his films. His
commentary is filled with fascinating stories, anecdotes and
insights into the actors and filmmaking process.
If you pass on Air Force One,
you're missing out on a great DVD. Enough said.