Air Force One

Air Force One Information

Air Force One is a 1997 American action-thriller film written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed by Wolfgang Petersen in which a group of terrorists hijack Air Force One. It stars Harrison Ford as well as Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell and Paul Guilfoyle.


A joint military operation led by American and Russian special forces rushing through and neutralizing a few Kazakhstan Guards which ends with the capture of General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of a rogue terrorist regime in Kazakhstan that had taken possession of an arsenal of former Soviet nuclear weapons, who is now taken to a Russian maximum security prison. Three weeks later, a diplomatic dinner is held in Moscow to celebrate the capture of the Kazakh dictator, at which President of the United States James Marshall (Harrison Ford) expresses his remorse that action had not been taken sooner to prevent the suffering that Radek caused. He also vows that his administration will take a firmer stance against despotism and that they will never negotiate with terrorists.

President Marshall, along with his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson), his daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews), and several of his Cabinet and advisors, board Air Force One to return to the United States. A contingent of news reporters are also aboard. U.S. Secret Service agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), acting as a mole for a group of six Radek loyalists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman), sneaks them onto the plane disguised as a news crew, after the real news crew was murdered and their IDs were stolen. Once in flight, Gibbs kills several Secret Service agents guarding the plane's armory, allowing Korshunov and his men to take the armory's weapons and equipment and seize control of the plane. A gun battle erupted between the hijackers and the Secret Service while the pilots attempt to land the plane at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. However, the pilots are killed when the hijackers breach the cockpit, after which they take control, diverting the plane towards Kazakhstan. Secret Service agents take Marshall to an escape pod in the cargo hold, while the rest of the passengers are taken hostage by the hijackers. Believing the President has escaped, the hijackers separate his wife and daughter from the rest of their hostages, planning to use them as leverage.

At the White House Situation Room, Korshunov contacts Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), threatening to kill a hostage every half hour until Radek is released. Meanwhile, the U.S. military locates the escape pod but finds it empty. Unbeknownst to the hijackers, President Marshall, a retired military aviator, veteran of the Vietnam War, and Medal of Honor recipient, stayed aboard the plane to rescue everybody else including his wife and daughter. He contacts the White House via satellite phone, reminding Bennett not to negotiate with the terrorists. Marshall manages to overwhelm the men guarding the hostages and develops a plan to drain the fuel from the plane, forcing the hijackers to request mid-air refueling, which would drop the plane to a low enough altitude to allow the hostages to parachute out. Though his advisors insist that Marshall get off the plane before the terrorists find out that he is still onboard, he refuses to go without his family. When Korshunov discovers the deception, he forces the plane away from the refueling tanker, causing the fuel to ignite and destroy the fueling plane. He then captures Marshall and a few of his advisors before they can escape.

With Marshall and his family held hostage, Bennett is forced to contact Russian President Petrov to endorse Radek's release. Korshunov and his men celebrate as the event is broadcast over the plane's speakers, but Marshall uses the distraction to free himself. While Marshall's advisers deal with the remaining terrorists, Korshunov grabs Grace as a hostage and disappear to the plane's parachute ramp, followed by Marshall. Grace manages to cause Korshunov to lose hold of his weapon, so Marshall would have the chance to wrestle with Korshunov. While he is fighting, he wraps a rope around Korshunov's neck and forces his chute to open, pulling him out of the plane and killing him. Marshall then races back just in time to the communication room to announce that Radek, who is about to board a waiting helicopter, is to be halted. When the prison guards attempt to recapture him, Radek tries to flee but is shot and killed.

Marshall directs Air Force One back towards friendly airspace, but they soon discover Kazakh MiG-29s piloted by Radek loyalists following them. Escorting U.S. F-15s fend off the attack, including one pilot that sacrifices himself to intercept a missile, but the shrapnel from the explosion and machine gun rounds from the MiG-29s destroys Air Force One's tail controls, making it impossible to safely land the plane. Marshall pilots Air Force One out toward the Caspian Sea to prevent civilian casualties in the now-inevitable crash, and a nearby patrolling U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130E Combat Talon is called in to rescue Marshall and the others via zip-line; Marshall insists his family and advisers are rescued first.

Eventually, only Marshall, Gibbs, and Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) remain on the plane. It is announced to the three men that they can only take one more man out. Caldwell selflessly tells Marshall to go while he and Gibbs remain behind, but Gibbs pulls a gun and reveals to Marshall about his betrayal. He kills Major Caldwell after Caldwell steps in front of Marshall to take the shots that he intended to hit Marshall with, and attempts to save himself on the last remaining zip-line crossing before Air Force One hits the water. Marshall overpowers him, then grabs and detaches the zip line, escaping to safety. Moments later the plane, with Gibbs screaming in the open doorway, explosively disintegrates upon hitting the water. The MC-130E crew reel in the President, and change their call sign to "Air Force One" as they head back towards friendly airspace, while Marshall is reunited with his family.


  • Harrison Ford as U.S. President James Marshall
  • Gary Oldman as Ivan Korshunov, a Radek loyalist who led the hijacking of Air Force One
  • 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 henchman 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 Agent Gibbs, a mole who secretly helped the terrorists take over Air Force One
  • William H. Macy as Major Caldwell, President Marshall's loyal Air Force advisor
  • 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, A.F.O. Backup Pilot
  • Willard Pugh as White House Communications Officer
  • Don R. McManus as Colonel Jack Carlton, F-15 "Halo Flight" Leader
  • J.A. Preston as White House General


A large part of the crew took a tour of the real Air Force One before filming. They based some of the film's scenes, where the terrorists disguised as journalists survey the plane's layout and begin to take their seats, on the touring experience. The character of Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell was based largely on their real life tour guide, and the crew felt uncomfortable having to film the character's execution by the terrorists.

Scenes explaining why Agent Gibbs was the mole were cut from the final script. According to director Wolfgang Petersen, Gibbs was a former C.I.A. agent who lost a lot after the Cold War's end, and thus became angry with the American government. The hijackers never reveal to anyone Gibbs' true identity, to the point where they also tie him up along with President Marshall, Major Caldwell, and Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd.

Gary Oldman did not stay in character between the scenes. The director later said he called the filming experience 'Air Force Fun' because of how comic and genial Oldman would be off-screen. He also said that Oldman would suddenly return to the menacing film persona like a shot.

General Radek's palace, seen in the film's opening, was portrayed by two locations in Cleveland, Ohio: the exterior was Severance Hall, and the interior was the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. The Russian prison where Radek was incarcerated and later executed was played by the Ohio State Reformatory, previously seen in The Shawshank Redemption.


Air Force One received generally positive reviews from critics, with an overall "fresh" rating of 78% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film 3.5/4 stars, describing it as "superior escapism", and concluding, "Air Force One doesn't insult the audience. It is crafted by a film-maker who takes pride in the thrills and sly fun he packs into every frame. Welcome to something rare in a summer of crass commercialism: a class act." Todd McCarthy of Variety described the film as "a preposterously pulpy but quite entertaining suspense meller" that is "spiked by some spectacularly staged and genuinely tense action sequences." He lauded the film's antagonist: "[Gary] Oldman, in his second malevolent lead of the summer, after The Fifth Element, registers strongly as a veteran of the Afghan campaign pushed to desperate lengths to newly ennoble his country."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, writing, "The movie is well-served by the quality of the performances...Air Force One is a fairly competent recycling of familiar ingredients, given an additional interest because of Harrison Ford's personal appeal." Conversely, Adam Mars-Jones of The Independent called it "so preposterous that it begins to seem like a science-fiction artifact...the product of a parallel-universe 1990s which somehow by-passed the decades since the 1950s."

The film was a major box office success, earning $172,650,002 (54.9%) domestically and $142,200,000 (45.1%) in other countries It grossed a total of $315,156,409 worldwide in the box office. It was the year's fifth highest-grossing film worldwide.

President Bill Clinton saw the film twice while in office and gave it good reviews. He noted, however, that certain elements of the film's plane, such as the escape pod and the rear parachute ramp, did not reflect actual features of Air Force One. In the audio commentary, Wolfgang Petersen reflected that although the real plane did not have those features at the time of the filming, it would"?according to him"?be probably added by future governments. However, because of the highly classified nature of Air Force One's security features, the possibility of the capsule and parachute ramp existing cannot be completely ruled out.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards; one for Best Film Editing, the other for Best Sound Mixing (Paul Massey, Rick Kline, Doug Hemphill and Keith A. Wester).


Randy Newman was initially hired to write the film score; however, Petersen considered his version to be almost a parody and commissioned Jerry Goldsmith to write and record a more sombre and patriotic score in just twelve days, with assistance from Joel McNeely. After the harried experience, Goldsmith vowed never again to take on such a last-minute task.

Newman used some of his material from the rejected score in Toy Story 3.

Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album featuring Goldsmith's music (McNeely receives a credit on the back cover for "Additional Music in the Motion Picture", but none of his work is on the CD).

  1. The Parachutes (5:14)
  2. The Motorcade (2:40)
  3. Empty Rooms (4:02)
  4. The Hijacking (7:30)
  5. No Security (2:59)
  6. Free Flight (4:41)
  7. Escape From Air Force One (5:25)
  8. Welcome Aboard, Sir (2:06)
On August 11, 2012, Paul Ryan was introduced as the Republican vice presidential running mate by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to the score of Air Force One in Norfolk, Virginia.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Air_Force_One_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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