Plot: What’s it about?
President Jim Marshall (Harrison Ford) has just given a rousing speech in Russia, which outlined his “zero tolerance” approach to terrorism. He says the United States will not negotiate with the terrorists and should the need arise, intense and brutal force would be called into action to shut them down. After the speech, he, his family, his advisors, and some reporters board Air Force One and head out, but some unexpected guests have also joined the flight. The news reporters are actually Russian terrorists in disguise and they plan to overtake the plane, to force some demands to be met. The team is led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman) and manages to take control of the plane, but Marshall and a few others escape, headed toward an escape pod. But at the last second, Marshall decides to remain on board and send the pod out, to allow him the gift of a surprise attack, if needed. Marshall is a former soldier and a Medal of Honor winner, but these terrorists will test him at every turn, to be sure. But with his life, his family, and the honor of America on the line, perhaps he can rise to the challenge and defeat the squad somehow…
I’ve seen this movie several times and it never seems to weaken, thanks to superior acting and one heck of a good premise. It might seem a little outlandish to picture one of our recent presidents taking on terrorists with his own hands, but with President Jim Marshall involved, it’s quite believable in all respects. You do question some of the situations, but as this is more of an action/thriller than a dramatic picture, plot holes are acceptable, I think. A few instances require more suspension of disbelief than others, but most scenes are well staged and come across as believable. The idea of a single man as a hero is a good one, especially here, where we see someone stand up and keep their word, even with so much on the line. Harrison Ford’s turn as Marshall is great and even though he is no superman, he does his best under the tense situation. The acting is solid on all fronts, the story is stable, if a little too unoriginal, and the ride is a very entertaining one to take. This new Superbit edition lacks the sparse supplements of Columbia’s previous disc, but looks & sounds better and as such, the final decision rests on what’s more important to you, extras or the movie itself.
After his turns as super citizen Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford seems like the natural choice to play President Jim Marshall. His persona seems to be along the same lines as when he took on Ryan, as he is tough and steadfast, but also has a realistic human side. He struggles with his feelings at times and faces his physical limitations, both of which help us to connect to him, since is just another person like the viewers, not some unstoppable agent. Ford handles all the needs very well, from the action sequences to the more emotional side, as per usual for his performances. I can’t imagine anyone else being quite so effective in this role, as Ford just comes off as the perfect choice. Other films with Ford include Patriot Games, What Lies Beneath, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Fugitive, and Working Girl. The cast also includes Gary Oldman (The Fifth Element, The Contender), Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Jagged Edge), Wendy Crewson (The 6th Day, The Santa Clause), and Xander Berkeley (Shanghai Noon, A Few Good Men).
Video: How does it look?
Air Force One is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The original disc from Columbia looked good, but this new Superbit version offers some welcome improvements, though nothing too immense. The real focus would be the small details, where this new transfer is more crisp and defined. The original had good detail presence also, but not to this extent and as such, I think the visual difference is clear & rather obvious. The difference might not be as pronounced as it is with some Superbit titles, but it is there, if you look. I found colors and contrast to be pretty close to equal, with impressive showings in both cases. In the end, this is a nice improvement over the prior edition, so fans will be most pleased.
Audio: How does it sound?
I’ve often used scenes from the original disc to showcase my home theater, but the new DTS mix here takes it to another level. The track opens up the channels even more than before, with a lot of small, but important touches present. The surround data seems more immersive and realistic, while bass kicks even deeper in the DTS choice, which means it kicks real hard. But both tracks will suck you into the events, with intense surround presence and an excellent overall audio experience. The sound effects boom when needed and remain reserved if needed, while the musical score is driven home in flawless fashion. The vocals aren’t lost in all this however, as they are clean, crisp, and never falter in the least. I think either of these tracks would make nice demos, but if you have the needed equipment, the DTS packs even more of a punch. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.