Air Farce One- More Wolfgang
As frequent readers of my reviews will remember I am bewildered by the continued employment of one Wolfgang Petersen, enemy of film.
How Wolfgang continues to get directing jobs on films with gigantic budgets is something of a keen mystery. Wolfgang is responsible for such films as Perfect Storm, a film about New England rednecks getting lost, a remake of Poseidon which was seriously one of the very worse big budget films ever made when budget is taken into account. People talk about Ishtar as being a disaster, or the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Well both of those films were brilliant from beginning to end compared to the mega-mess that is Poseidon. But, this is a review about Air Farce One.
Air Farce One is the incredibly silly, 1997 yarn of a US President being held hostage by terrorist on Air Force One (the airplane). The plane also has the Presidents family aboard so he is even more motivated to fight back, which of course, he does very well. Imagine Die Hard on an airplane. Now, it is no small task to save a blockbuster film from a bad script, a silly premise and a unimaginative director, but as many producers know there is a way. Star power and strong acting performances when combined with lots of stunts, explosions, good sound design and score can make up for a silly script. In addition to Harrison Ford, Air Farce One sports Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell, Jurgen Prochnow and the often overlooked Xander Berkeley. This is what saves the day and makes the film believable. Ford is very believable as a President and this of course goes a long way.
Not surprisingly much of the film takes place on the plane, which studio executives love as one location means saving money. That is why the airplane movies pop up from time to time. Air Farce One, is just that, its a farce, its escapist fun, but like all of Wolfgang's movies, it takes itself too seriously when it really, really shouldn't. If you carefully watch this film you will ultimately realize that Air Farce One's budget of about $80 to $90 million dollars is a very much on the high side for what finds its way onto the screen. Ford's salary may have been somewhere in the $20 million dollar range. Keep this in mind when watching the film and see if you think he earned it.
But, Air Farce One did bring in lots and lots of green, making over $280 plus million at the box-office. Over $280 million? There is only one reason and that is star power and strong performances. Often the obsession with attaching a star or a “name” to a project may seem something of an enigma to those outside Hollywood, then you see a film like Air Farce One and it all makes more sense.
Acting A (Goofy script but the all-star cast hands in a strong performance.)
Visuals B+ (There are some good stunts and nice effects scattered in, here and there.)
Enjoyability Grade B-
Home Theater/HD Factor B
Overall Grade B- (A stronger script that somehow created a more believable scenario would have been greatly appreciated. But be happy that Air Farce One is as good as it is for it was penned by Andrew Marlow who brought us such masterpieces as End of Days, oh that was good, and Hollow Man. Air Farce One may be his crown jewel.)