Movie Review

Air Force One

Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action/Adventure
Length:
118 min.
R

Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Jurgen Prochnow, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Paul Guilfoyle, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy and Dean Stockwell / Director: Wolfgang Petersen / Released by: Columbia Pictures

Suspenseful and nail-biting action are the cornerstones of “Air Force One”! Albeit, violent and filthy-language laced, this movie will have you sitting on the edge of your seats!

Jim Marshall (Harrison Ford) is the President of the United States and has just taken a strong stand on terrorism and human rights violations at a speech in Moscow. Unfortunately, that is challenged almost immediately as Air Force One is hijacked by Russian Nationalist Terrorists who want the President to convince the Russian leader to release General Radek, an imprisoned Russian leader. Throughout this hair-raising adventure, director Wolfgang Petersen (famous for his epic drama aboard a German u-boat in “Das Boot” and “In the Line of Fire”), a gallery of surprising thrills and spectacular stunts abound.

From a Christian perspective, this movie is EXTREMELY violent. Numerous people are killed, including execution by a pistol discharge to the head. This is particularly troubling because the President’s daughter, Alice, is only 12 years old and the executions are done in front of her and others. Furthermore, one lady was executed in this manner and knew it was coming as the terrorist was counting down in attempt to draw out a resisting passenger.

The language was also dismal. The most troubling was when the 12-year-old Alice said “God” in a derogatory manner. Also, the president himself said “G** D***” a couple of times and vice president Bennett (Glenn Close) said “how the H*** did they get the president, how the H*** did they get Air Force One?” Sexual-violent hints were also present, like when the terrorist asks how the vice president’s silk blouse is, implying that she would be sweating from the pressure of the situation.

On the positive side, the vice president does request the citizens of the United States to pray for the safety of everyone on Air Force One. Refreshingly, the president’s stand on terrorism and human rights violations is applaudable, not because of any political advantages, but because it is the right thing to do.

“Air Force One” will leave you with a sense of triumph. BUT, the violence and language drag you through the myre in the process. A certain amount of violence was needed to convey the storyline, but this was clearly excessive and rightly deserves its “R” rating. Imagine what work the airlines will have to do to edit this movie before showing it to in-flight passengers—if they choose to show it at all :)

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Saw this with my wife last night; both of us thought it was terrific! Great music, very tight editing, and plot that keeps you guessing even though we know Harrison Ford and the forces of “good” will triumph in the end (sort of like Jesus’s return and real life). I was particularly moved by how many people so willing laid down their lives to protect their President. Do we Christians really love Jesus that much?
—George Lazzell, age 50
WOW!!!… That’s basically how I felt from start to finish of this movie. Along with “I want to stay for the next showing”!!!… What a movie… best I’ve seen in awhile! I’m a big Harrison Ford fan, especially when he’s in this type of role (i.e. as Jack Ryan in Clear and present Danger and Patriot Games). I walked out of the theater and said to my wife, “If Harrison Ford can’t really be President, couldn’t we at least have Ronald Reagan back?” The President is portrayed of a man of integrity, who strives to do what’s right, regardless of the cost. Honestly, I’m sure the movie deserved the R-rating because of the language and violence, but I was so engrossed in the story, that I can’t even remember most of the instances of such language and violence. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, go now! If you see only one movie all summer, see this one too! :)
—Jeff Michael, age 26
Air Force One is a movie to see on the big screen. Video would not do it justice. Harrison Ford is good as usual, but the story soon begins to lack in logic and reality. It also, as is typical in Hollywood movies, begins to repulse the viewer with its language. Hollywood should be trying to keep the viewer’s attention, not turn one off of the movie half way thru it.
—John A.C. Forster, age 45
The story of AF1 was quite good. The heroism and character which the president showed were refreshing. However, morality comes from God. The president’s character showed a complete lack of respect toward’s God and God’s principles. Therefore, his character and heroism were false and not real. True character and morality come from God and God alone.
—Scott Newhouse, age 27
After seeing AF1 with my husband, I decided it was “tame” enough to let my 13 and 15 year old children see it. The movie was a great discussion opener for us. We discussed the unselfish and heroic sacrifics made by the characters and asked ourselves, “For what would we be willing to die?” In addition, this movie showed the powerful love and suffering of a father who was asked to sacrifice his daughter to keep his integrity. My 13 year old cried when she saw how much Ford’s character was suffering with this decision. While the president in AF1 could not keep his word, we know that our Father did and gave His only Son for us. How much He must love us! Because of how this movie opened up the discussion of sacrificial love, I think it should receive higher marks toward being Christian appropriate viewing.
—Sharon Cate, age 36
Harrison Ford for President!!! I agree-if an election were held tomorrow he’d have my vote! Character does count-and the president in this movie has lots of it. Yes, it was violent, but unfortunately we can turn on the tv any night of the week and find people who would take no thought of killing people-as did the villains in this movie! “Air Force One” is definitely deserving of a higher Christian rating-I’d see it again in a minute!
—DMP, age 29
This is a great story for all U.S. citizens, especially socially pro-active Christians. It accurately showcases the respect that our elected AND appointed government officials deserve whether we like their politics or not. In our dedication to restore morality to secular government, we’ve tragically yielded to brainless labeling and name-calling (i.e., we’re disrespectful).

As for the violence, this is planet earth before Christ’s reign: dirt and violence stain any good that’s humanely achieved. The God-breathed storytelling in the Bible didn’t mince words or scenes. The obscenity and profanity was very tame. While Christians must denounce profanity whenever they encounter it, we shouldn’t be afraid of language which properly belongs to us. Besides, it’s high irony when godless people call upon God. We shouldn’t ever miss that!
—Debra L. Lewis, age 40
“Air Force One” is a great film! Granted, I could have done without the gratuitous language and violence that typifies a lot of films these days, but, at least, it’s not done just to fill somebody’s quota… this is a film that could have easily been written by Tom Clancy. To me, it’s more of a psychological action film than a basic shoot-em-up movie. And I also happen to disagree with the reviewer’s consideration of “1” for the Christian aspect. How many films are out there today that openly suggests prayer and candlelight vigils for people’s safety? Not too many. I would have given it a “3” at least, and the overall rating a “4”. And Harrison Ford… let’s just say that if he ever decides to run for office, he will no doubt have my vote.
—Bill Williams, age 30
Air Force One is one of the best of the summer as well as the year. Harrison Ford was very convincing as the Prez and the supporting cast backed him up nicely… except for Gary Oldman as the bad guys. The story was so great that I didn’t notice most of the cursing. I did catch him using GD a few times. The violence was justiifiable… he’s just supposed to let the terrorists kill him and everyone on the plane, right? It’s another strictly entertaining night out at the movies… and what’s wrong with that? See AFO and have a good time.
—Chris Utley, age 24
While I agree that this movie is very violent, I feel I must clarify that it wasn’t simply violence for violence’s sake. Nearly every violent act went toward plot or character development—especially the latter. The main villain is this film is the first 3-dimensional bad guy I’ve seen in a VERY long time. Robert raises a good point that those who die are not merely faceless casualties—and therefore we are not anesthetized to the violence. Also, I would like to point out that, for an R-rated action movie, the language is quite tame. And every time that I can recall a “good guy” using foul language was in a time when he/she was under extreme duress. (Not that this justifies it, but this is a lot better than the average R-rated flick where such language seems to be thrown in simply to guarantee the R.) By all means, if the language or violence would offend you, don’t go to this movie. But to merely catalog the potentially offensive material without some sense of context—at least with this movie—does a disservice to the film and to the audience.
—Brendt Waters, age 30
I must agree that the Christian rating does seem a bit low. While the language at points is present, it is no more and often less than what you encounter daily. It’s the best of the summer movies so far. As far as the 12-year-old daughter, despite tremendous pressure and at least one lengthy monologue by the senior terriorist, she stands her ground. For her, family is the most important thing. AND THE BAD GUYS GET IT IN THE END!
—Don Mallicoat, age 62
While I will admit that the movie contains violence and cursing, when compared to most “R” movies (and most movies in general) this movie is far tamer than the average. It displays many positive aspects such as patriotism, self-sacrifice, unselfishness, devotion to family, and committment. If one were to avoid everything that smacked of violence or raised eyebrow, then don’t read the Bible or have anything to do with human beings, even chrisitans. Each person must look at what offends them personally and what would drag another down. I personally appreciated the heroics and respect for human life the good guys portrayed and abbhorred the disregard for human life the villains displayed, but throughout the movie there is no doubt or deception as to who are the good guys and who are the bad. And yes, the good guys aren’t perfect. Who, but one ever was?
—Mike Gauthier, age 37
Air Force One is clearly to me one of the best movies of the summer, if not recent years. The action is tense and gripping throughout, and Harrison Ford depicts the type of President Americans all wish they had. One of the most poignant things about this movie is that when people die, they are not just faceless numbers slaughtered for the camera. We know that they are real people, and that they’re death is not fun and games. Secret Service agents and Military men selflessly give their lives for the President, and heroism is rampant. All in all, this is the best action movie I have seen in years. My only problem is with the traitor, who I won’t reveal here. I don’t believe that scenario could ever take place.
—Robert Phillips, age 27
Positive—I believe “Air Force One” was a very good movie. I was annoyed at God’s name being misused by the president, but that was my only annoyance with the movie; the rest of the movie was better at correctly portraying good and evil. The violence is very “Good vs. Evil,” and the Bible does say “There is a time for peace, and there is a time for war”. Marshall refuses to leave his family and finally saves them from the Russians on the plane. The villain does make a mention of the vice president’s blouse, but since the villain did it, it portrays evil in a negative way; nothing else that could be interpreted as sexual immorality. The president and his wife do kiss, but they are married adults, not high school teens.

An arrogant man humbles himself in the movie and takes a bullet for the president, and lives. All of The villains (Agent Gibbs, the Russians on the plane, Radek) meet well-deserved justice by the end of the movie. The main scene I recommend caution on is when the villain executes an unarmed woman while counting to 10. You don’t see the actual execution, but you hear a gunshot and a scream, then you see her body being moved somewhere else (thankfully we do not see her face as her body is moved). This moment does portray sadism in an evil light, and the heroes you root for are certainly disgusted, but it’s a bit much for anyone younger than 13.

One minor note: You almost never hear/see the names of any character in this movie and they are usually only in the cast list (save for the first family, the vice president, and the two executed victims, and some others). Not that it is offensive, but it is annoying to know these characters as “The traitor agent,” “Gary Oldman Russian,” “Russian pilot,” etc. When they should have had their names more stated. Just saying.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Neutral
Harrison Ford looks like a mouse,” my wife says as he peeks up out of the cargo hold of the 747. Given this view, “Air Force One” left me chuckling. Okay, it wasn’t a total waste of 2 hours. But the computer graphics were unconvincing, the plot predictable, the violence usual… and Harrison Ford did look like a mouse. Watch “Executive Decision” instead, it is a much better production of the same idea.
—Todd Adams, age 30
If you want to be entertained by the world, and everything the “world” has to offer this is it. I used to work in a theater so I could go in when I want for free. I saw this movie twice and it did not leave anything long lasting. Just a short high of heroism. Purely entertainment from the world which means anything goes. You can’t trust a rating anymore. At first, I wished Harrison Ford would run for President but the reality is this movie is not reality. It’s a movie. Maybe if we all prayed for our President the way we should it would be a different story, and Hollywood would be copying our President. First of all lift up Kings…
—Enrique Lombana, age 28
Air Force One is a pretty good movie even though it is a little far fetched sometimes. It did have quite a bit of violence and they definitely could have done without the foul language. Hollywood always seems to put foul language, violence and at least one liberal left wing line or two into every movie.
—Mark Snoke, age 29
Negative
swearing by the President repulsive
The use of the Lord’s name in vain by the President of the United States was very repulsive to me. If the bad guys were scripted to use the Lord’s name in vain I could accept that but when Hollywood portrays the hero as anti-Christian (as they frequently do) it is quite unacceptable to God fearing Christians like myself… the movie was just a remake of Die Hard except they were on a plane instead of a skyscraper. That’s only based on half the movie, I didn’t watch the whole thing because I couldn’t stomach the notion that the hero and president was of such a weak moral character as reflected by his anti-Christian vocabulary.
—J. Banister
After viewing this movie, I can agree with some of the other reviewers that this movie’s use of the Lord’s name in vain is horrible. The violence could be tolerated because we see this kind of stuff everyday on the TV news but the language was detestable. The movie would have bee much more enjoyable had it had less violence and no usage of the Lord’s name in vain.
—Elizabeth A. Franks, age 30
I had read the movie reviews on this web page before hand, and had it been entirely up to me, I never would have gone. But some friends wanted us to go so we did. The negative comments previously listed on this web site are correct. The violence is extreme, so much so that you hardly notice the bad language. I feel sad for this nation when I observe that for many people it takes an unrealistic movie (my son and I are pilots and the flying scenes are ridiculous) with an unrealistic plot with extreme violence and extreme language to “entertain” them.
—Dave, age 52
Comments from young people
Negative—I went and saw Air Force One its opening weekend. The violence I can handle and most bad language I can, but how can Christians just sit by and let God’s holy name be trampled on. It was not necessary for Harrison Ford to say GD at all. It actually took away from my enjoyment, and I felt guilty and convicted for not walking out when he started using it. We as Christians need to take a stand and draw the line and stop going and supporting this trash Hollywood is producing. Air Force did have a wonderful plot and it was a good seat edger, but I could have done without the misuse of our Creator’s name, who supplies us with our next breath.
—A. Lance Murphy, age 16
Positive—“Air Force One” was a great movie, and whoever says it was too violent has obviously not seen an R rated movie before. It was a terific movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joshua Loe, age 16 (USA)
Positive—Air Force one was an excellent film with great special effects. I believe that this film had very little language compared to other films that are rated “R” and the violence wasn’t out of control, either. As a matter of fact, the violence was tamed. This movie was Harison Ford’s best, besides the Indiana Jones series.
—J.A.P., age 14
Positive—This was a good, solid action movie, and, I must say, I was quite surprised by the lack of obscenities. Every “plane” movie I have seen (Passenger 57, Turbulence) has been loaded with cursing, but AFO had only a few instances. But to Adam Brooks, the “F” word was used a little more than once by Gary Oldman.
—Milo Lydon, age 15
Comments from non-viewers
While I haven’t seen the movie myself, I believe that this movie warrants a higher Christian rating. The language only warrants a PG rating (except for 1 “f” word.) Sure the violence is excessive, but what do you expect in this type of action flick. All in all, I think this movie should be praised for its lack of really bad language and sex related dialog/scenes which is so prevelent in the action movies that come out today.
—Adam Brooks, age 16
To the people who excuse the profanity in this film in the name of “believability,” I would say that the very art of Hollywood filmmaking runs contrary to the notion of realism. I don’t go to movies to get hit in the face with reality; that’s what the evening news is for. Movies are—for the most part—escapism. How can the use of profanity be justified on those terms? It’s also “realistic” that the President and the rest of the cast would have to take bathroom breaks as the story proceeds, but that is not shown. Why? Because we—as the audience—have no need to see that. By the same token, why is bathroom language considered necessary for its “realism?” I urge those who believe this outdated notion of cinematic “believability” to rethink their position.
—Shane Dodson, age 27