Okay, I was just kidding. You couldn't tell? The truth is, I am slightly underwhelmed by Ford's performance here. Nothing new, and nothing really presidential. I kept saying to myself: "He's the president, he's the president ... " Yet he still comes off as a movie star/actor who's trying really hard to be grim. Or is it that I just can't compare Clinton's family to the fictional Marshall's? (Bill and Hillary smooching on Air Force One? I don't think so. Yeah, yeah, it's just a movie.) The one who truly deserves praise is Gary Oldman's villain (I don't know the character's name). He adds dashes of three-dimensional pain and inner struggle (whatever that means) to what would have been the standard villain character, fated to be put away by the good guys, kicking and screaming all the way. I really can't help myself being cynical, but some lines in this movie are just cheesy enough to turn me off--"You're nothing like my father," or the cozy family moments between the Marshalls--and ya know what, I feel guilty about it.
But the truth is, I was never certain what would happen until the movie ended, and I was constantly kept at the edge of my seat (well, partly due to the tall guy sitting in front of me, but nevermind). What will happen to the traitor? What will he do? Will President Marshall give in to the terrorists demands? (Sorry to say this, but they I'll bet no one was surprised that Marshall wasn't in the escape pod--duh.) Many of the actions scenes are pure cinematic excitement, and you gotta give credit to those amazing stunts. And I'm willing to bet that come next year's Oscars, this film will get nominated for its sound effects, or one of them similar categories. Unless, some other movie comes along--and it's a long time to the Oscars.
It is because of these action scenes and the patriotic emotions this film stir up in me that I am able to excuse it from the previously mentioned flat characters and flawed script. In fact, this would have been the perfect July 4th movie, a la "Independence Day" (Kick-Ass President!! Americans win!! Military music!!! Much cheering at the end!! And is it just me, or are the same people always playing those high government officials in these action movies? And I know this thing is too long for parentheses.) Some truly moving moments are times like when the F-15 (or is it F-16?) pilot let his plane take the missile for Air Force One, or when Gary Oldman's character kissed Alice on the forehead (gotta love his performance, that sadistic old fellow!). Those are tearjerkers. Thumbs down (no infringement intended, Gene and Roger!) to the slooooow beginning (I like to get right down to action), the lousy presidential speech (and why does the gorgeous Harrison Ford have to smirk so much?), and the (to me) somewhat abrupt ending. William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell (who was so memorable as the Al in the series Quantum Leap'), and Glenn Close were IMHO completely wasted in this movie, but they do make good space fillers. No offense to these actors, they're top notch, but frankly their talents have been overlooked in this movie.
Despite these flaws, I'd have to say this film was overall a quite competent action movie. To quote Jay Leno, it has "all the elements of a blockbuster"--which, to me, means great effects, some suspense, a score that fits in all the right places (which somehow becomes annoying, because then we know something's gonna happen), a reasonable cheese factor in the characters and the dialogue, and of course, a happy ending (I'm one of those people who can't live with sad endings--unless it's a very artsy movie). This is kinda sad if you're expecting something more, shall I say, extraordinary, something that lives up to its trailor and then some, but I'm willing to bet "Air Force One" ranks among the best action films made this year.
Rating: B (First viewing, 8/3/97)