Air Force One

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: May 19, 2009
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Wolfgang Peterson

Release Date(s)

1997 (June 2, 2009)

Studio(s)

Columbia/TriStar (Sony)

Review

Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman square off at 30,000 feet in this terrific actioner about the hijacking of the First Plane.  While on a visit to Moscow, the President (Ford) has placed the bad guys of the world on alert – the U.S. will no longer tolerate, or negotiate with, terrorists.

But wouldn’t you know it, a group of Russian radicals posing as a TV news crew (and led with zeal by Oldman), has managed to hitch a ride on the President’s return trip.  Shortly into the flight, they manage to wrest control of the 747, taking the First Family and forty other passengers hostage in the process.  But the President, now a stowaway on his own plane, engages in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse to prove that he can back up his tough talk, and save the lives of those closest to him.

As with all action films, Air Force One requires some suspension of disbelief by the audience.  Could terrorists really get aboard the President’s plane, even with inside help?  Unlikely.  Thankfully, Ford is entirely believable as the President.  Back in Washington, Glenn Close is equally good as his Vee-P.  And the leads are backed by a solid supporting cast (including William H. Macy of Fargo fame), the deft direction of Wolfgang Peterson (In the Line of Fire, Das Boot, Outbreak) and nail-biting aerial effects sequences that keep the action fast and furious until the very end.  My only complaint about Air Force One, is that Harrison Ford never returned to his Jack Ryan role in the Tom Clancy films after this.  Ah well. How do you go back to playing CIA after President of the United States?

I was really hoping this disc would deliver on the picture and sound front.  Thankfully, Sony hasn’t disappointed.  The HD transfer is wonderfully film-like, with very satisfying color and contrast, light to moderate grain and very good overall image detail.  This is matched with a new Dolby TrueHD audio mix that features a wide and enveloping soundstage, with excellent bass and highly active surrounds – not just for music and gunfire, but general ambience as well.  Overall, it’s a very nice presentation.

Sadly, the extras have been down rather than upgraded.  Not that this film has EVER had much in the way of bonus material – a Peterson commentary and the theatrical trailer was as good as it got on the previous DVD.  But while the commentary has made the jump to Blu-ray, Sony (as seems to be their practice these days) has once again dropped the trailer for this film, replacing it with preview trailers for lots of other titles instead.  I sure wish they’d stop doing that – it’s annoying as hell.  And no, making the trailer available via BD-Live doesn’t count.  Blu-ray fans want it on the disc thank you very much.

Air Force One is rock solid entertainment from start to finish – a film I can’t help stopping to watch whenever I notice it on the cable schedule as I’m flipping channels.  This new Blu-ray version delivers great A/V quality, though I just wish Sony would upgrade the extras one of these days too.  Still, if you’re a fan and you can find a good sale price, I’d say the disc is worth the upgrade.

- Bill Hunt

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