Air Force One (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Let’s take a trip back to 1997, shall we? Though not that long ago, the world was most certainly a different place. The internet existed, but every television commercial didn’t advertise some use for it. We had Bill Clinton in the White House who had not yet been impeached and we were all introduced to a new format called “DVD” that would let us watch a movie in digital picture and sound. Ah, those were the days! Growing up in Arkansas, I have had my fair share of Bill Clinton and, looking back, he really wasn’t that bad of a president. Foreign countries respected us and it was a night and day difference from the outright mockery that George W. Bush made of our country. But I won’t turn this into a political discussion. Let’s look at the facts: Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford as the President of the United States who fights the bad guys. Need I say more?

President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is back en route to the United States after delivering a speech on his “no tolerance” policy against terrorism. It just so happens that while on “Air Force One”, the plane is hijacked by, you guessed it, terrorists. Led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) they know their job well and are doing everything they can to get to the leader of the free world. The Vice-President (Glenn Close) just so happens to be on the ground and we see the interaction between them as they try to make it out of this situation. What really makes the movie work is Ford. Ford was a staple of movies in the 90’s and his portrayal of the president as an ass-kicking tough guy gave audiences a reason to cheer. With the entire movie taking place aboard the plane, there’s little room for error and we wonder if the plane will ever make it to land?

“Air Force One”, for a while, held the record for biggest opening weekend for an “R” rated movie. I’m sure that record has been erased by now but still this film gave audiences what they wanted and what the film promised. Ford isn’t quite the leading man he was after this as his next film “What Lies Beneath” was a hit. While the plot is a tad bit predictable, the film does deliver on all accounts. Gary Oldman is perfect as the emotionless Russian terrorist and though he’s turned to some more “family friendly” roles now (with parts in the “Harry Potter” films as well as the new “Batman” series), this is him at his peak. The ensemble cast helps round out what has gone down as a great action movie and something that’s taut and tense even several years later.

Video: How does it look?

“Air Force One” was one of the first “big” films on the new DVD format and I’m surprised it’s taken such a long time for it to make its way to Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer leaves a little to be desired with some artifacting and grain in several key scenes. The entire palette is very muted, as it takes place on an airplane. Flesh tones seem somewhat natural though the black levels and contrast are a bit off here. It’s a step up from the standard DVD release, for sure, but this isn’t a disc I’d use for demo material.

Audio: How does it sound?

On the flip side, this disc does contain a very robust Dolby TrueHD uncompressed mix. I saw this movie in the theater and I still can recall a scene in which a machine gun is fired by Harrison Ford’s character. The shells landing on the floor made such a sound that it reverberated all around me. Finally, I now have that same sense of sound. Of course there are also explosions, jet planes and the like to keep all of the speakers occupied. While the transfer is a bit out of date, the sound certainly isn’t.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, we have the same director’s commentary with director Wolfgang Petersen. This is the exact same track that the standard DVD had and though good at times, it’s a bit dry. After 11 years, I think it’d be time for a new special edition, don’t you?

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