Thursday, May 14, 2015

Airforce One

Score Technician: TJ Geise

From the director of The Neverending Story comes Air Force One, a film where US President Harrison Ford has to kick a lot of bad guy ass to save his family from Kazahk terrorists lead by Gary Oldman. Even though it’s obvious that Harrison Ford will win out in the end, we let the nanobots dissect this anyway. Science is bigger than any one movie about ass-kicking presidents!
  • Parachuting snipers kill a bunch of guys and haul Jürgen Prochnow out of his bed in his jammy-jams. = +4pts 
  • Harrison Ford: America’s gloomiest president since Richard Nixon. = -3pts 
  • Four years before 9/11, President Ford says to hell with diplomacy and declares war on terror. ‘MURRICA! = +8pts 
  • No Ma’am alumni Bob Rooney scoffs at the arrival of Gary Oldman and his “press” team. Did he say, “There goes the neighborhood” because they’re Russian or reporters. Both? = +2pts (either way) 
  • To show you schlubs that he’s just like you, the president naps in front of a football game, tickles his daughter, and pretends to listen his wife. = +5pts 
  • Jeez, Dad, being twelve is totally old enough to gawk at the dispossessed in a Russian refugee camp. Come on! = -6pts 
  • Wrapping the presidential daughter in the presidential blanket on the presidential couch after she fell asleep in front of the presidential TV is so presidentially precious that we could just presidentially puke. = +3pts 
  • Having the courtesy to lull your secret service brethren into a false sense of security with field reports before blowing their brains out. = +2pts 
  • There’s smoke wafting throughout the plane and all of the Russians ran for the assault rifles and kevlar vests, yet not one of the presidential aids has so much as a sidearm drawn. So much for the war on terror. = -6pts 
  • Ramstein Air Force Base is one “M” away from being Neue Deutsche Härte. = -1pt 
  • “How in the hell did this happen?” asks Vice President Glenn Close. We’re pretty sure it happened when someone let a bunch of angry-looking Russians onboard. = -10pts 
  • Not shooting the black pilot first. = +4pts 
  • The dopey looks on the faces of the airmen when Air Force One barely misses crashing into another jet. = +5pts 
  • Not subtitling Gary Oldman angrily yelling gibberish. = +2pts 
  • A room full of trained military personnel and not one person tried to stop Gary Oldman from putting a gun to the first lady’s head. = -4pts 
  • President Ford escapes through his escape hatch and skulks around like a first-time Metal Gear Solid player. = -5pts 
  • When the chiefs of staff think the president is dead, General Mustache reminds everyone that President Ford was the badassiest commando ever to fly a chopper in ‘Nam. = +6pts 
  • After an inspiring football break, the President tackles a bad guy and then bashes him upside the head with a stool. = +4pts 
  • This hijacking was brought to you by Budweiser: the president of beer and Bounty: the chief of staff at soaking up spills. = -3pts 
  • Gary Oldman laments the death of his minion by threatening to kill his other minion. = -2pts 
  • The national security advisor came off a little too smug and strong with his desire to talk to the vice president. Gary Oldman made sure he’ll be talking to the vice president… of hell! = +4pts 
  • Harrison Ford frantically reading the user’s manual for a cellular phone. = +7pts 
  • Manipulating Air Force One’s countermeasure system as a means of gaining the leverage to beat the tar out of the guy holding a gun to your head. = +10pts 
  • Both Harrison Ford and Glenn Close let it slip that their favorite childrens’ book is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. = +3pts 
  • Because there’s no manual for how to sabotage Air Force One’s fuel system, President Ford calls tech support and, like most people who call tech support, is surly with the operator. = -8pts 
  • President Ford saves all the hostages because ‘MURRICA! = +7pts 
  • Threatening someone with a promotion to Postmaster General. = -3pts 
  • ‘90s tech alert: People getting excited to see a fax go through. = +4pts 
  • The Vice President and the Secretary of Defense know so little about the chain of command during the presidential absence that they get the Attorney General to come in and talk about the constitution. Talk about a one-way flight to Yawnsville - we wanna see Harrison Ford punch out more bad guys! = -2pts 
  • The Vice President asks for America to pray for the president’s safety. +3pts in 1997, -7pts in 2015. Total score = -4pts 
  • William H. Macy quietly gives instructions on how to operate a parachute in a room full of panicked presidential staffers. = -3pts 
  • Senseless airplane explosion! = +5pts 
  • Gary Oldman lives the anti-American terrorist’s dream by beating the hell out of the president, spitting in his face, putting a gun to his daughter’s head, and making him shed manly, presidential tears. = +3pts to the terrorists, -10pts to America. Total points = -7pts 
  • Glenn Close refuses to go through with Dean Stockwell’s plan to overthrow the president with some document signing bullcrap. Blah blah blah – this is less time focused on Harrison Ford firing a machine gun at Russians. = -5pts 
  • President Ford is sick and tired of these monkey-fighting Russians on this Monday-through-Friday plane. = +10pts 
  • Freeing the bad guy general from prison just so that you can shoot him as he’s inches away from freedom. Bolshoi pobyeda! = +5pts 
  • Flying your jet into the path of a missile to save the president. ‘MURRICA! = +3pts 
  • Only room for one more person to skyjump to safety? Sounds like it’s time for the sleeper agent to start shooting everyone. Rest in peace, William H. Macy. = -3pts 
  • Opting to use dated CGI effects that barely resemble a PS1 cut scene for the Air Force One crash instead of an arguably cheaper and more realistic looking prop. = -10pts 
  • You know the good guys won when one of them gives another a double thumbs up. = +3pts 
  • Not setting up a cliffhanger ending for the inevitable sequel: Air Force Two. = +4pts
Total Score = +25pts
Availability: Crackle, Harrison Ford’s resume, Bill Clinton’s VCR

Like most blockbuster summer spectaculars in the ‘90s, Air Force One was a blockheaded romp where good conquers evil in the face-punchiest of ways.

Unlike most blockbuster summer spectaculars in the ‘90s, the protagonist was the president of the USA. While that sounds badass in theory, in practice most of the tension was drained way from the action. No matter how beaten down or pushed to the edge of reason he became, there was no way that the film could ever allow him to be defeated. Not only that, but any efforts they put toward making Gary Oldman more than a one-sided villain were undermined by his ruthlessness.

Though corny and sometimes boring, Air Force One did have some decent one-liners (“Get off my plane!”) and action scenes. If anything, it showed that the idea of the president as an action hero is better when played for cheesiness rather than super seriousness. It also showed that terror will never conquer ‘MURRICA!

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