Near the outset of this Clancy-esque thriller, President Harrison Ford, after ordering a military kidnapping in Kazakhstan that makes the raid against Noreiga look like the act of a follower of Thoreau, delivers a speech taking the radical stance that terrorism is a bad thing. Shortly thereafter, evil Communist Gary Oldman and a loyal band of equally evil, equally Communist hijackers take control of the president's plane en route to America, demanding the release of their leader. At this point, the President of the United States of America is forced to kick some ass, not only to save his family but to stave off the disastrous return of the Red Menace, a problem symbolized at one point by a crowd of former Soviet subjects breaking into "The Internationale." The main problem with Air Force One is not that it's a credibility-stretching, chest-thumpingly jingoistic action movie that endorses a kill-or-be-killed approach to international politics—although, considering that director Wolfgang Petersen made Das Boot, one of the most affecting anti-war films ever, it is sort of a problem. The problem is that Air Force One is a simplistic, underwhelmingly thrilling one. Ford is typically good as President Kickass, but, outside of a few well-staged confrontations, the tension that should be inherent to the situation barely registers. A finale that, without giving too much away, removes some of the dread and brings out the heavy-duty, God-bless-the-American-summer-movie-season special effects doesn't help matters. Considering the talent involved, the fact that Air Force One comes off like a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie with the Van Damme surgically extracted is unforgivably disappointing.
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