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Air Force One

Air Force One a 1997 American political action-thriller film written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed and co-produced by Wolfgang Petersen. It is about a group of Russian terrorists that hijack Air Force One.

The film stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, as well as Glenn Close, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell, and Paul Guilfoyle. A box office success with generally supportive critical reviews, the film was one of the most popular action films of the 1990s.

American and Russian Special Forces capture General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of a rogue terrorist regime in Kazakhstan that possessed stolen Soviet nuclear weapons, threatening to start a new Cold War. Three weeks after the mission, U.S. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) attends a diplomatic dinner in Moscow, during which he praises the capture, but reveals a government mistake that cost millions of lives and insists the United States will no longer negotiate with terrorists. Marshall and his entourage, including his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson) and daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews), and several of his Cabinet and advisers, prepare to return to the United States on Air Force One. In addition, a number of members of the press corps have been invited aboard, including Russian terrorists and Radek loyalists disguised as journalists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman).

After takeoff, Secret Service agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), who is secretly a mole, murders fellow agents and unlocks the plane's on-board armory for Korshunov, using a smoke grenade to signal them. The terrorists storm the plane, killing many of the other agents and military personnel before taking the others hostage. Marshall is raced to an escape pod in the cargo hold while pursued by Korshunov's men but they are too late to capture him as the pod is ejected. Instead, Korshunov storms the cockpit and prevents the plane from making an emergency landing at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and secures Grace and Alice separately from the other hostages. Six F-15s (dubbed "Halo" flight) from Ramstein escort Air Force One as Korshunov has it piloted towards Radek-loyal airspace. Korshunov contacts the White House and speaks to Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) and demands Radek's release, threatening to kill a hostage every half hour. His first kill is Marshall's National Security Advisor, Jack Doherty (Tom Everett).

Unknown to Korshunov, Marshall, a Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, has remained hidden in the cargo hold instead of using the pod and begins to observe the loyalists using his military training. Marshall manages to kill some of Korshunov's men and then uses a satellite phone to make contact with his staff, letting them know he is alive. While trying to contact the White House, Marshall is caught by one of Korshunov's men who begins to escort him to the cockpit. Marshall tells his captor that his plane has special defense mechanisms, including automatically dodging any detected missile lock-on, knowing that Bennett is still listening on the satellite phone. She realizes that Marshall was ordering the escorting jets to fire at the plane, whereupon the jets fire one missile. Sure enough, the plane darts upwards suddenly, and the plane's countermeasures cause explosion that shakes the plane, allowing Marshall to kill his captor. Korshunov believes that only a rogue Secret Service agent is in the cargo hold and has his men search for him until he learns, through a White House press conference, that the President is still missing.

Marshall attempts to dump the plane's fuel to force the plane to land before reaching Kazakhstan, but Korshunov discovers this, halts the process and demands Bennet to send more fuel to them. Marshall sneaks up the main level and captures one of Korshunov's men, who leads him to the hostages. When he gets to them, they devise a plan: while Marshall's landing plan failed, they can use it to trick Korshunov to take Air Force One to a lower altitude during the mid-air refueling; from there, the hostages can parachute safely off the plane. As a KC-10 tanker docks with Air Force One, Marshall brings the hostages to the cargo hold, where most parachute away. Marshall insists on staying to rescue his family, so Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd (Paul Guilfoyle), Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) and Gibbs stay to protect him. The plan goes wrong when Korshunov is alerted to the deception by the plane's computer and forces Air Force One away, causing the fuel to ignite, destroying the tanker; the shock wave pushes a few hostages and the captured terrorist out of the plane without parachutes, and Korshunov is able to stop Marshall and the remaining hostages from escaping.

As the plane crosses the Kazakh border, and with the President and his family under his control, Korshunov forces Marshall to contact Russian President Petrov and arrange for Radek's release. After ordering the jets to back off from the plane to save the First Family, Bennett is urged by Defense Secretary Walter Dean (Dean Stockwell) to declare the President incapable under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, so as to override Radek's release, but she refuses. While Korshunov and his men celebrate the news of Radek's release, Marshall breaks his bonds and kills Korshunov's last two henchmen. Before Korshunov can escape himself, Marshall fatally throttles him with a parachute strap, furiously tells him to "Get off my plane!" and flings him out. Marshall races back to lift his order, and Radek is subsequently killed when he attempts to escape.

Marshall and Caldwell direct the plane back to friendly airspace, only to be quickly tailed by a second batch of Radek loyalists piloting six MiG-29s, who surprise Marshall and Caldwell of their proximity with a missile lock warning and subsequent engagement. The F-15s are ordered back into Kazakhstan on afterburner, and are green-lit to fire. Marshall is able to evade most of the missile launches; although one turbine is damaged by a MiG's cannon fire. The F-15s destroy two MiG-29s in BVR combat with AIM-120s, and merge for a close engagement. One F-15 pilot (Halo 2) sacrifices himself to intercept a missile when the plane runs out of countermeasures, but the resulting explosion damages Air Force One's tail, rendering landing impossible, and it starts to lose fuel and altitude. An F-15 downs one more MiG-29 (presumably the one who killed Halo 2), and the remaining MiGs retreat.

A standby U.S. Air Force Rescue HC-130 is called to help, sending parajumpers on tether lines to help rescue the survivors. Marshall insists that his family and the injured Shepherd be transferred first. When there is time for only one more transfer, Gibbs reveals himself as the mole, killing the parajumper and Caldwell. Marshall and Gibbs fight for control of the transfer line, and Marshall manages to grab and detach it at the last minute. Air Force One finally runs out of fuel and crashes into the Caspian Sea, breaking apart on impact and killing Gibbs. The HC-130 airmen reel Marshall in, who is safely reunited with his family. The HC-130 is subsequently renamed "Air Force One" as it flies back to friendly airspace, accompanied by the F-15s.


Harrison Ford as President of the United States James Marshall

Gary Oldman as Ivan Korshunov, a Russian Radek loyalist

Glenn Close as U.S. Vice President Kathryn Bennett

Wendy Crewson as First Lady Grace Marshall

Liesel Matthews as First Daughter Alice Marshall

Dean Stockwell as U.S. Defense Secretary Walter Dean

Elya Baskin as Andrei Kolchak, Korshunov's best friend and pilot

Levan Uchaneishvili as Sergei Lenski, Korshunov's henchman

David Vadim as Igor Nevsky, Korshunov's henchman

Andrew Divoff as Boris Bazylev, Korshunov's henchman

Ilia Volok as Vladimir Krasin, Korshunov's henchman

Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd

Xander Berkeley as U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Gibbs

William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell, military aide to the President

Alan Woolf as Russian President Petrov

Tom Everett as U.S. National Security Advisor Jack Doherty

Jürgen Prochnow as General Ivan Radek, the dictator of Kazakhstan

Donna Bullock as Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell

Michael Ray Miller as Colonel Axelrod, pilot of Air Force One

Carl Weintraub as Lieutenant Colonel Ingraham, co-pilot of Air Force One

Spencer Garrett as White House Aide Thomas Lee

Bill Smitrovich as General Northwood

Glenn Morshower as U.S. Secret Service Agent Walters

David Gianopoulos as U.S. Secret Service Agent Johnson

Dan Shor as Notre Dame Aide

Philip Baker Hall as U.S. Attorney General Andrew Ward

Richard Doyle as Colonel Bob Jackson, Air Force One Backup Pilot

Willard Pugh as White House Communications Officer

Don R. McManus as Lt. Colonel Jack Carlton, F-15 "Halo Flight" Leader

J.A. Preston as the USAF Maj. General who was President Marshall's Commanding Officer during the Vietnam War


Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Produced by Armyan Bernstein - Gail Katz - Jonathan Shestack - Wolfgang Petersen

Written by Andrew W. Marlowe

Music by Jerry Goldsmith

Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus

Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce

Production Company: Beacon Pictures - Touchstone Pictures - Radiant

Distributed by Columbia Pictures (US) - Buena Vista Pictures (International)

Release date: July 25, 1997

Running time: 124 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English - Russian

Budget: $85 million

Box office: $315.1 million

run time: 124 minutes

Under Section 107 of The Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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poster image: same
movie: DAV FL 70 Webmaster private collection

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