Air Force One (1997)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 119:35
RSDL / Flipper FLIPPER (61:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wolfgang Petersen

Warner Home Video
Starring Harrison Ford
Gary Oldman
Wendy Crewson
Paul Guilfoyle
William H. Macy
Liesel Matthews
Dean Stockwell
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $36.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    So after hearing so many words about this film, I finally get to see what the fuss was about. Wolfgang Petersen has made some great films, starting with Das Boot, so is this amongst them?

    President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is in Moscow to be honoured for his role in the capture of the self proclaimed terrorist leader of Kazakstan. In his speech, he signals that the USA will not tolerate or negotiate with terrorists. Of course he soon gets the chance to back up his words when fanatical Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman), posing as a Russian journalist, leads his band of not-so-merry men onto Air Force One with the aim of capturing the President, to effect the release of their beloved leader. After it appears that the President has done the bunk and escaped, turns out he stayed on board and proceeds to wipe out half the terrorists before being captured. Back in Washington, Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) tries to hold everything together, hoping that good old Jim will save the day. Of course he dutifully does, killing the other half of the terrorists after being captured, ensuring the safety of wife Grace (Wendy Crewson) and daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews) in the process, whilst playing cat and mouse with the release of said terrorist leader, then heroically piloting Air Force One until being rescued just before Air Force One becomes a very large splash in the Black Sea.

    And if that sounds like a very corny script, you are d*** right. This has so many plot holes that you had better leave disbelief at the door or you will not last ten minutes. I spent just about half the film shaking my head at things that simply could not happen (even in the sloppiest air force). Despite the poor script, Wolfgang Petersen has done a sterling job of welding together a film that entertains at a quite hectic pace. Harrison Ford is quite convincing as the gung-ho President, but he is outshone by Gary Oldman as the bad guy - a role that he is getting d*** good at. The other highlight is Glenn Close as the VP, holding herself to her convictions whilst all around the men are losing their nerve - well not quite, but she sure had more balls than most of them.

    It is just a pity that the effects work was so poor - the final demise of Air Force One is especially unconvincing and sets back the art of effects work a good five years. Maybe on the big screen with the poorer resolution it all worked well, but under the analytical eye of the DVD, it sure comes up way short of the mark.

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Transfer Quality


    Well, after a couple of very ropey efforts, Buena Vista are back on form here with a very good transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The transfer is sharp throughout, except for the aforementioned effects work, with some nice definition to it. Shadow detail is very good, aiding the film no end.

    The colours were uniformly rendered, if not especially vibrant: this reflects the way the film was made rather than any shortcomings of the transfer. There was no hint of oversaturation even in the explosions.

   There were no MPEG artefacts noted, and video artefacts consisted of barely noticeable aliasing. Film artefacts were not a problem at all, rare for a modern film.

    This is a dreaded flipper disc with the change coming at 61:19. It is especially disruptive as it comes halfway through a scene, and Buena Vista really need to look at remastering this as an RSDL disc (but more of this later).


    Overall, the audio transfer was pretty decent, but in the main far too aggressive in the bass for my liking. The effects sounds seemed to be far too overpowering compared to the rest of the soundtrack.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks: the default English, French and Italian. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand most of the time, although certain scenes were inherently going to be difficult to understand due to the overpowering music or effects. I found myself turning down the volume to cope with the effects and music then finding I could not hear the dialogue, so having to turn it back up again. This was most annoying.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the transfer at all.

    The score is provided by one of the best in Jerry Goldsmith, and a suitably dynamic and regal soundtrack it is too. It suits the film especially well, and is especially complementary, albeit too aggressively mixed.

    The surround channels were very aggressively balanced, but there was some gorgeous detail out of the rear channels - especially the background flight noise during the scenes on board the plane. The sound picture was very dynamic, and I never felt part of the film but rather a definite outsider.

    The subwoofer got some really, really serious workout here, as the bass is very aggressively mixed. To my mind, the bass is overmixed in the soundtrack and you could be well served to turn down your subwoofer by a couple of decibels for this.


    More holes than the plot, which is saying something.


    Your typical Buena Vista menu.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 1 misses out on: Region 4 misses out on:     Before I get accused of being a Buena Vista basher, let me say I am happy that they are in the marketplace giving us some great films. It is simply a pity that they present them on such poor DVDs - and this is perhaps the prime example (although Starship Troopers is also vying for the title). This is a Columbia TriStar release in Region 1, and despite the veritable feast of extras by comparison, they have managed to present the film on a single side of a dual sided disc and given the other side over to a full frame version of the film. Why then can Buena Vista fit virtually nothing but three additional subtitle choices (six in Region 4 compared to three in Region 1) onto the DVD whilst losing the audio commentary and trailer, and have to make it a dual sided disc for one film version only? This is unacceptable no matter how you look at it. If for some technical reason what comparatively little they have to offer could not be fitted onto a single layer, single sided disc, then why not use RSDL formatting as opposed to a completely disruptive flipper? Buena Vista really need to look at themselves very seriously. Consumer pressure in the UK got the Region 2 flipper of Armageddon replaced by an RSDL format DVD - with free replacement to disgruntled consumers. Perhaps we should all complain to Buena Vista about this effort, seeking a replacement?

    Whatever you do, get the Region 1 version if at all possible. At the price you can get it off the web retailers, it should arrive on your doorstep at much the same sort of price, and it is a far better DVD. Buena Vista do not deserve our support of this release: rant and rave over.


    Air Force One is a very entertaining film, if you can leave your disbelief at the door, and should be in every one's collection - just not this version if possible. The overall rating would have been if it were not a flipper disc, even without any extras.

    The overall video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is good, but is too bass heavy.

    Lots of extras too ....... in the prison scene.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 12, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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