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Wolfgang Petersen
Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close
Writing Credits:
Andrew W. Marlowe

Communist radicals hijack Air Force One with the President and his family on board.

Box Office:
$85 million.
Opening Weekend
$37,132,505 on 2919 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 11/6/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Wolfgang Petersen
• Trailer and Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Air Force One [4K UHD] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 4, 2019)

In his synopsis of Air Force One, David Letterman phrased it best: Harrison Ford, the ass-kicking president!

It's such a great "high concept" idea that I'm amazed no one thought it up before Air Force One hit movie screens in 1997. Over the prior decade, we saw multiple variations on the Die Hard theme: Die Hard on a bus, Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard on a train, Die Hard on a boat, Die Hard on a donkey - you name it.

There didn't seem to be many places left to go, so the creators of Air Force One took the concept and gave it a twist. Instead of using a cop or similar character to play the protagonist, let's make it the president!

Actually, the idea of an action hero president wasn't really original, since Independence Day did it a year earlier. However, in that case, the president's role in the plot seemed much less important and he wasn't the focal point of the entire story.

After a summit in Russia, President Marshall (Ford) boards Air Force One to head back to the States. A crew of Russian journalists led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) go along for the ride as well.

Except they’re not really members of the press. Instead, they’re loyal to an imprisoned Russian leader, and they manage to take over Air Force One in a violent coup.

They capture much of the president’s crew and family, but Marshall himself manages to avoid the terrorists. Marshall uses the resources at his disposal to save all involved.

As discussed in the liner notes that come with the original DVD, the list of actors who could truly come across as believable as both president and action hero started and ended with one name: Pauly Shore. However, he wasn't available, so they took Harrison Ford.

Okay, that first part isn't true, though the idea seems sound to me. According to the production notes, the producers actually considered making the hero the vice-president since that possibility opened up additional acting options. For an ass-kicking president, they felt that Harrison Ford was the only man for the job.

I have to agree with that point. While I'm sure there are a number of actors who could do well with the role, clearly the producers wanted a "name" actor to play it and I can't think of any notable performers other than Ford who could succeed in the part.

Plenty of guys could play the president or an action hero, but not both. Even Pullman, who did it before, would have been a bust in this role.

Solid casting seems to be a hallmark of films made by Wolfgang Petersen, and Air Force One is no exception. In addition to Ford, we get a cast that includes Glenn Close, Gary Oldman, William H. Macy, Xander Berkeley and Dean Stockwell.

All the actors acquit themselves professionally in their parts, but none other than Ford and Oldman really stand out from the crowd. There's a reason Harrison Ford is possibly the most commercially successful actor ever: what's there to dislike about him?

Gary Oldman also rarely gives less than a good showing in his movies, but that's where the comparisons to Ford end. While Ford has been something of a modern Gary Cooper in his roles, Oldman comes across more like a male Meryl Streep with the wide variety of characters and nationalities he plays.

While he may not completely take over every part he plays, I find Oldman to almost always be very watchable and compelling. He's one of the best actors working today, and he's one of the few "name" actors who can really seem to lose himself in a part. I spend much less time thinking of him as "Gary Oldman" than I do if I watch, say, Jack Nicholson (who I always think of as “Gary Oldman”).

As I mentioned earlier, "A"-list casting is one given of a Wolfgang Petersen film. Another is that while his films are always solidly constructed and quite professional, they rarely transcend the genre to become truly exceptional. His efforts usually provide compelling action and easily maintain an audience's interest for two hours, but I don't feel that any of them ever does anything remarkable enough to merit inclusion with classics of the genre such as Die Hard or Aliens.

Those films were truly special and they influenced many films over the years. While Petersen's movies can be good entertainment, they never go past that to give the audience anything new; they're tremendously well executed and competent, but they lack a spark that could take them to another level.

But this shouldn't be interpreted as a tremendous slight, because seminal movies of the kind listed come along so rarely. At least when you see the name Wolfgang Petersen attached to a film you know it'll be well-done and reasonably compelling, and Air Force One fits that mold well.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

Air Force One appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though held back a little by the original photography, this became a largely strong presentation.

Sharpness mainly satisfied, with an image that boasted pretty good accuracy and definition. A few interiors could seem a little soft, but the majority of the movie brought appealing clarity.

The movie lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and with a nice layer of grain, I suspected no issues with digital noise reduction. Print flaws remained absent.

Air Force One featured a pretty subdued palette. The vast majority of the film took place in office spaces, whether in the White House or on the jet, and these didn’t lend themselves to bright, vivid hues.

Nonetheless, colors looked clear and accurate throughout the movie, and when we did see some more intense tones – such as via roses at the start of the film – they looked nicely vibrant and lush. The 4K UHD’s use of HDR gave the colors a little more verve.

Black levels appeared deep and dense, and shadows seemed smooth and concise. The HDR created nice contrast and dynamic whites. This was about as good as this movie could look.

I found little to complain about in regard to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Air Force One. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this was a stellar affair with a soundfield that presented a very active and aggressive piece that pushed the limits of all five channels.

The film’s score showed fine stereo separation as well as a strong presence from the surround channels, and effects usage seemed to be quite solid. Elements popped from all around the viewer, and localization appeared excellent, as these elements always came from logical places.

The audio blended together well to create a seamless and involving environment that was consistently broad and engaging. From the loud aspects of the track to the natural jet ambience, the entire package seemed very strong.

Audio quality seemed to be solid as well. Despite the high level of looped dialogue, the speech sounded natural and distinct throughout the film. I detected only slight signs of edginess and no problems related to intelligibility.

Effects were clean and accurate, and they showed fine dynamic range. Gunfire, explosions, and jet flying noises all appeared crisp and free from distortion, and they boasted positive low-end when appropriate.

The bright and powerful score also showed fine dynamics. Ultimately, this was an excellent soundtrack that made the film more satisfying.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2009? The Atmos track provided a little more oomph and involvement, but the visuals became the more obvious upgrade.

I thought the Blu-ray looked mediocre, whereas the 4K UHD offered superior accuracy, colors, blacks and contrast. This became a clear step up over the Blu-ray.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from director Wolfgang Petersen. Aided by two moderators, Petersen offers a running, screen-specific track that discusses cast and performances, sets and locations, action and stunts, various effects, script and rewrites, recreating Air Force One, music and sound design.

Petersen provides a very chatty piece that proves to be generally informative, though I’m not wild about his tendency to dwell on the nature of the film’s planes; Petersen loves to tell us when it’s a model, CG or real, but his obsession doesn’t become compelling listening. Nonetheless, he’s a perky participant, and he offers enough decent material to make this a sporadically useful piece.

A second disc provides a Blu-ray copy of One. This gives us the same disc linked above – complete with circa 2009 previews.

As a film, Air Force One feels mechanical and forced at times, but it offers a reasonably exciting and entertaining experience. There’s nothing particularly creative at work here, but it’s a professional and enjoyable piece. The 4K UHD boasts excellent audio and very good picture as well as a couple of bonus features. This turns into the best representation of the film on the market.

To rate this film visit the Superbit Edition review of AIR FORCE ONE

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