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File:Airforceone.jpg
"Harrison Ford is the President of the United States."
Tagline, which effectively describes the main reason for seeing the film
"Get off my plane!"
—President James Marshall

Air Force One is a pre-9/11 film in which Harrison Ford, as James Marshall, the President of the United States, personally thwarts a hijacking of Air Force One. The film also includes Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), First Lady Grace Marshall (Wendy Crewson) and First Daughter Alice Marshall (Liesel Matthews).

Tropes used in Air Force One (film) include:


  • And Starring: Glenn Close.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "When you talk to the President, you might remind him that I am holding his wife, his daughter, his chief of staff, his national security adviser, his classified papers - and his baseball glove!"
    • Later, a member of the cabinet grumbles, "Damnit! Nobody does this to the United States! The president will get his glove back and play catch with this guy's balls!"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking -- Ironically subverted by the terrorists, not realizing that it's the President kicking ass, believing that it's a Secret Service agent who's holding out. Unfortunately, said trope is averted when the President stays hidden despite knowing that a terrorist has threatened to execute a female secretary, and then carries out that threat.
    • Played straight through the rest of the movie. It's justified since Marshall was a former officer in the United States Air Force.
      • Though he was a helicopter pilot, not a Combat Controller or something. And due to mandatory conscription in the the former USSR and Kazakhstan, the mooks should have been trained as well.
      • It's mentioned that Korshunov and at least one of the mook terrorists (the first one taken out, incidentally) served in Afghanistan together for 5 years, so at least two of them had some military experience and knowing the high risk involved in the job, it's likely the others had similar experience.
  • Backed by the Pentagon
  • Big Bad: General Ivan Radek (despite his Dragon, Ivan Korshunov, getting more screentime). A rare instance of the film's ostensible head villain spending half the running time completely offscreen.
  • Big Damn Heroes The escorting F-15 fighters, which returned after being called off earlier just in time to save Air Force One from being shot down by MiG-29s.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you speak Russian (or are one), you are guaranteed to have a few snickers from the rather trippy Russian spoken in the movie.
  • Bond One-Liner: A case of one being delivered by the villain. After executing National Security Adviser Doherty Korshunov tells the Vice President;

  Korshunov: Your national security advisor has just been executed. He's a very good negotiator. He bought you another half-hour.

  • Cassandra Truth: President Marshall calls the White House on a cell phone and says he's the President of the United States with predictable results. Fortunately for him, one of those predictable results is the security procedure that everyone who calls the White House has a phone trace run on them - which leads to considerable surprise when they realize that it actually is the President calling.
  • The Cavalry: Obviously, President Harrison Ford is the Cavalry for much of the movie, not to mention the half-dozen USAF F-15s that come burning in, splashing two MiGs immediately. The second gets just enough time for the pilot to have an Oh Crap moment.

 Halo Lead:Four more bandits, heading zero-nine-zero, Engage!

  • Chekhov's Skill: Marshall's ability to speak Russian and fly planes.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: President Marshall tries to stall Korshunov as he cuts his hands free using a shard from a broken drinking glass.
  • Die Hard on Air Force One
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet - The bad guys are dead, the plane has been secured, and the evil General has been killed before he could return to power. A flight of MiGs has launched from one of the bases loyal to the bad guys, and proceeds to intercept and attack Air Force One.

 Halo Lead:Not so fast, you son of a bitch!

  • The Dragon: Korshunov
  • Dragon Ascendant: From a story standpoint Ivan Korshunov is this. His boss, General Radek, being in prison elevates Korshunov functionally to the level of an "acting main villain."
  • Dragon Their Feet: At the end of the film, the terrorists have been dispatched and a mid-air zipline transfer is about to take the remaining passengers to the rescue plane, Liberty 2-4. However, the traitor Agent Gibbs pulls a gun and demands that he be rescued over Major Caldwell and President Marshall.
  • A Father to His Men: Ivan Korshunov takes it very personally whenever Marshall kills one of his guys. Arguably General Radek is this, too.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The flick reflects the brief Yeltsin-era rapprochement between Russia and the U.S.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Twice: first, when Lloyd Shepard dives in front of the President to take the bullet (he got better); again towards the end, when a MiG tries to shoot down Air Force One, one of the fighter planes flies into its path (even managing to look like someone Taking the Bullet). One of the few times a Red Shirt gets a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • High Concept: It's Die Hard on Air Force One and President Harrison Ford is taking back his plane. That's the entire movie in one short sentence.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Harrison Ford played Jack Ryan in two movie adaptations of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. The novel published a year before the movie shows the character dealing with becoming the US President.
  • Hot Chick in a Badass Suit:
    • Glenn Close as the Vice President.
    • Also, the chatty press secretary who shows Korshunov and his gang around the plane.
  • I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: Even the poster says "Harrison Ford is the President of the United States." The character's name is James Marshall, but you won't remember that.
  • I Have Your Wife: And your daughter, too. And your baseball glove!
  • I Lied: "Forgive me, I lied." is Korshunov's response when First Lady Marshall pointed out he promised to let them go if the President cooperated.
  • Large Ham: As usual, Gary Oldman is this.
  • Lzherusskie: Petrov, Radek and Korshunov are all fake Russians. However, the terrorist mooks and Russian extras are played by emigrants from the Soviet Union.
  • Misguided Missile
  • The Mole: (Agent Gibbs, played by Xander Berkeley, who would marry another famous "mole", Sarah "Nina Myers" Clarke, after they appeared together in 24)
  • Motive Rant: Done by Korshunov when Vice President Bennett asks him what the terrorists want.

 Vice-President Kathryn Bennett: What are your intentions?

Ivan Korshunov: What arrogance to think you could ever understand my intentions.

Bennett: I want to understand what it is that you want.

Korshunov: What do I want...When Mother Russia becomes one great nation again, when the capitalists are dragged from the Kremlin and shot in the street, when our enemies run and hide in fear at the mention of our name, and when America begs our forgiveness...on that great day of deliverance, you will know what I want.

    • Also subverted by Korshunov, actually taking the time to explain himself, not because he snaps, but because he seems to want to justify his patriotic motives to the President's daughter (who happened to just witness the execution of the National Security Advisor). Gary Oldman plays this to the hilt, and at least for that one scene Korshunov becomes somewhat sympathetic.

 Korshunov: That's the first time you ever seen a man killed, huh? You think I'm a monster? That I would kill this man? Somebody's son? Somebody's father? I am somebody's son too. I have three small children. Does that surprise you?

Alice: Why did you kill him?

Korshunov: Because I believe. And when I shoot this man I know...how deep was my belief. That I would turn my back on God Himself...for Mother Russia. My doubts, my fears, my own private morality...it dissolves in this moment...for this love.

  • Multitasked Conversation: President Marshall finally gets through to the White House phone line, but is cornered by one of the terrorists. He hides the phone in his pocket, and in what appears to be idle conversation with the terrorist, instructs the Vice-President to order that Air Force One be fired upon, allowing him to take his captor by surprise.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Korshunov. Korshun is Russian for kite, as in "bird of prey".
  • Neck Snap: Accomplished rather realistically by the President, who is understandably unsettled after doing it, considering it is probably the first time he has killed with his bare hands.
    • Also the fate of Korshunov.
  • New Era Speech: Marshall's speech in Moscow when his character is introduced when he explains America's new hardline stance on terrorism.

  Marshall: Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.

 Korshunov: (speaking to The President) This is all your doing. This infection you call "freedom"...without meaning, without purpose. You have given my country to gangsters and prostitutes. You have taken everything from us. There is nothing left.

 Korshunov: You know your father has also killed, is he a bad man?

Alice: That's not true.

Korshunov: Why? Because he does it in a tuxedo with a telephone call and a smart bomb?

    • Alice hits back with a non-violent Shut UP, Hannibal: "You ARE a monster...and my father is a great man."
    • Korshunov also responds to First Lady Marshall arguing with him about rules by saying

  Korshunov: You who murdered a hundred thousand Iraqis to save a nickel on a gallon of gas are going to lecture me on the rules of war? Well, DON'T.

 Korshunov: That's the first time you ever seen a man killed, huh? You think I'm a monster? That I would kill this man? Somebody's son? Somebody's father? I am somebody's son too. I have three small children. Does that surprise you?

Alice: Why did you kill him?

Korshunov: Because I believe. And when I shoot this man I know...how deep was my belief. That I would turn my back on God Himself...for Mother Russia. My doubts, my fears, my own private morality...it dissolves in this moment...for this love.

  Halo Lead: Not so fast so you son of a bitch.

  • The President's Daughter: Alice Marshall
  • Redshirt Army: The Secret Service detail are quickly wiped out when the terrorists launch a sudden attack (under the cover of a smoke grenade and fire) by grabbing the plane's weapons and body armor. However, the Secret Service do succeed in holding back the terrorists long enough to get the President to the escape pod in the belly of the plane, thus succeeding at their primary objective.
    • The Russian soldiers late in the movie subvert this. When Radek is escaping, they rush up and gun him and his troops down before he can reach his helicopter.
  • The Red Stapler: Almost. Then US President Bill Clinton allegedly wanted to put an escape pod in the real Air Force One after seeing this movie.
  • Renegade Russian: The Russian terrorists are opposed to the Russian government and, apparently, want to re-create the USSR.
  • Rule of Cool: The features on the plane in the film (the escape pod, the mid-air refueling,[1], the parachute ramp, and, the counter-measures,[2]), are not on the real planes that transport the US President but can be explained by this.
  • Sadistic Choice: Give yourself up and provide the terrorists with the bargaining chip they need or let your Deputy Press Secretary, begging for her life, be killed?
    • Let the US President, the First Family and several other VIP's die or release the genocidal general?
    • Let your wife and daughter die or order the release of said general?
  • Slipped the Ropes: Marshall does this with the aid of a shard of glass.
  • Taking the Bullet: One of the F-15's protecting Air Force One intercepts a missile headed for the titular plane, sacrificing himself and saving everyone on it. In a subversion the shrapnel still damages the tail, making the plane unable to continue flying; but this is still less damage than the missile itself would have caused.
    • Played straight with Lloyd Shephard, Marshall's Chief of Staff.
  • That's an Order: Said by Vice President Bennett after President Marshall has ordered the escorting jets to fire on Air Force One.

 White House General: Is he saying what I think he's saying?

Vice-President Bennett: If we're going to act, we have to act now.

Defense Secretary Dean: It's too risky.

Bennett: The president is up there with a gun to his head!

General Northwood: He's asking us to do that to Air Force One?

Bennett: He's not asking. Your commander-in-chief has issued a direct order. Do it!

  • Throwing Out the Script: At the beginning of the movie, Marshall ditches his previously written self congratulatory speech about the successful capture of a Kazakh dictator by Russian and American special forces in favor of a frank confession on how his capture was too little too late since said dictator's regime had killed hundreds of thousands of innocents and the United States did nothing besides token trade sanctions until their own national security was threatened. He then vows that the United States will launch a new policy against terrorism unbounded by self interest.
  • Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Fairly early in the movie, when it's discovered that the President is still on Air Force One, the Cabinet quickly drafts a letter stating the intent to invoke this, as the President is compromised. The Vice President, however, refuses to sign it, considering it an affront to the situation on the plane. At the end of the film, she tears it up.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Korshunov is shown lamenting the death of one his henchmen, saying that they served together in Afghanistan
  • Wire Dilemma: Naturally, there's No Time to Think, and so President Marshall cuts all the wires except for the Red, White, and Blue.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Within the first 20 minutes of the movie, it seems the President has safely ejected from Air Force One, and Air Force One itself is about to land safely at the Rammstein AFB in Germany, this can't be it, right?
    • Also happens with General Radek as he's leaving prison.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go

Notes

  1. the real plane can be refuelled during flight from a tanker aircraft, see The Other Wiki
  2. the real plane has the most advanced counter-measures in the world, they are classified, however. Experts assume in addition to radar jamming and flares, the plane currently has lasers to burn out the sensors on heat seeking missiles, and more
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