In theory, this should be a short post because the headline should have spurred you into action. By that I mean, if you haven’t already fired up your copy of Air Force One, you’re doing something wrong. Yes, everyone should own this movie in the format they see fit. You never know when inspiration will strike you to see Ford growl his most iconic non-franchise movie line of all time (Spoilers, but if you haven’t seen this movie in the almost 23+ years it’s been out, well, that’s kind of on you at this point):
GET. OFF. MY. PLANE.
How I love this movie. ’90s action movies are one of my favorite genres (alongside ’80s/’90s high school movies and ’30s/’40s screwball comedies.) 1997, in particular, was a banner year for the subgenre of ’90s action movies that also take place on planes, seeing as how CON AIR came out just a few months before Air Force One. Man, we did not know how good we had it in 1997, the best year for movies, ever. (You can fight me on this, but Grosse Pointe Blank, Face/Off, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and Titanic came out that year, so you will lose.)
About this time last year, I wrote about how Bill Pullman was the better fictional president than Harrison Ford, and I still stand by that assessment until Gerard Butler inevitably plays the president in an amazing action movie where he fights monsters and fascism, and then we all know where my allegiance will lie. However, today is not that day—and we need to give Harrison Ford his due.
His president, James Marshall, knows how to fight. That’s kind of all you need to know, seeing as how this movie is about him fighting on his airplane. There’s also some diplomatic stuff at play, but really, that just serves as a vehicle for the fighting and one-liners. What I like about Ford’s president is not only that he knows how to fight, but that he does fight, which is kind of important in a ’90s action movie.
OK—he does other stuff too. He cares about people. He’s smart. He’s a problem solver. He’s not a coward. He protects his family. He cares about others and actively works to help them. He has honor. He’s resourceful. He lays off the self-tanner. His policies and cruelty aren’t/weren’t actively ruining our country. None of these things could be used to describe our current president. That guy really sucks.
Let’s also not forget that Glenn Close plays his Vice President and that was a big f*cking deal in 1997. You’ll note that this movie came out right about the time of the Beanie Baby craze (which is an unrelated factoid) and the Spice Girls’ version/vision of “Girl Power” (which is a related factoid) so that was cool! I don’t remember a lady vice president up until this movie, so let’s give it its credit for that, too. I mean, would it be better that the president was a lady? Duh. However, this was the ’90s and a lady VP was our version of progressive back then, so…you know. Take your wins where you can get them and all that.
Also, the bad guys, fronted by Gary Oldman, were reasonably scary and they too knew how to fight. Have I made it apparent that what I love most about ’90s action movies are the action scenes? If not, I’ll state it explicitly: what I love most about ’90s action movies are the action scenes. Followed by the one-liners. Followed by everything else.
In fact, the only thing I don’t love about Air Force One is that it basically marks the end of Ford’s (good) action movie career. Don’t believe me? Here’s his filmography, smarty pants. You really want to stump for Six Days Seven Nights? Nope? Didn’t think so.
So, if you’re sitting around tonight and don’t know what to do and you don’t want to follow my evergreen advice of going out and buying scratchers? Well, friends, Air Force One is always there for you. On Presidents’ Day, and every day thereafter.
Header Image Source: Columbia Pictures