Air Force One is a 1997 American political action-thriller film written by Andrew W. Marlowe and directed and co-produced by Wolfgang Petersen. It is about a group of Kazakh terrorists that hijack Air Force One, and the President of the United States' attempt to retake the plane, while saving as many lives as possible.
The film stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, as well as Glenn Close, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell and Paul Guilfoyle. A box office success with generally positive critical reviews, the film was one of the most popular action films of the 1990s.
An American and Russian Joint Military Operation results with Special Forces capturing General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of Kazakhstan. Three weeks later, a diplomatic dinner is held in Moscow in Russia by Russian President Petrov (Alan Woolf) to celebrate the capture of the Kazakh dictator, at which President of the United States James Marshall (Harrison Ford) expresses his remorse that action had not been taken sooner to prevent the suffering caused by Radek. He also vows that his administration will take a firmer stance against despotism and that they will never negotiate with terrorists.
President Marshall, along with his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson), daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews), and several of his Cabinet and advisors, board Air Force One to return to the United States. In addition, a number of members of the press corps have been invited aboard. A batch of Radek loyalists, led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman), posing as a news crew, are cleared to fly on Air Force One. After takeoff, Secret Service agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), who is secretly a mole, enables Korshunov and the loyalists to acquire weapons and begin storming the plane, killing many people before taking everyone else, including Marshall’s family and advisors, hostage. Secret Service agents race a reluctant Marshall down to an escape pod in the cargo hold, where he seemingly escapes as the pod is ejected. The terrorists breach the cockpit and prevent the plane from making an emergency landing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Several F-15s escort Air Force One as the terrorists have it piloted towards Radek-loyal airspace.
In Washington, D.C., Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close), arrives at the White House, taking command of the situation with U.S. Defense Secretary Walter Dean (Dean Stockwell) and other officials. Korshunov contacts Bennett and demands Radek's release, threatening to execute a hostage every half hour. Marshall, who has remained hidden in the cargo hold instead of using the pod, manages to kill one of Korshunov's men and acquire a weapon. Korshunov executes National Security Advisor Jack Doherty (Tom Everett) and secures Grace and Alice separately from the other hostages and takes them up to the cockpit. Marshall kills another hijacker, then uses a satellite phone to make contact with Bennett. Korshunov, believing that a Secret Service Agent is in the cargo hold, executes Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell (Donna Bullock).
Marshall dumps some of the plane's fuel reserve in an attempt to force a landing. Instead, Korshunov demands a mid-air refueling. Marshall gains access to the conference room where the hostages are being held and he, along with his military advisors, including Major Caldwell (William H. Macy) and Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd (Paul Guilfoyle) devise a plan to trick the hijackers to take Air Force One to a lower altitude for the refueling, allowing the hostages to parachute safely off the plane. Gibbs, pretending to be on their side, joins them. As a KC-10 tanker docks with Air Force One, Marshall and the advisors escort the hostages to the cargo hold, where most parachute away; Korshunov discovers the deception and forces the plane away, causing the fuel to ignite, destroying the tanker. Marshall, Caldwell, Shepherd, and Gibbs remain on board Air Force One.
The four are taken to the cockpit, where Marshall reunites with his family. Korshunov forces him to contact Petrov to arrange for Radek's release. Marshall surrenders himself to Korshunov to save Alice. Bennett is urged by Dean to declare the President incapable under the 25th amendment, so as to override Radek's release, but she refuses. While Korshunov and his men celebrate the news of Radek's release, Marshall breaks free and kills the last two of Korshunov's men. Korshunov drags Grace down to the cargo hold, wherein Grace briefly distracts Korshunov and a fight ensues wherein Marshall kills him. Marshall then lifts his order, and Radek is subsequently killed when he attempts to escape.
Marshall and Caldwell direct the plane back to friendly airspace, but Bennett alerts them of a second batch of Radek loyalists piloting MiG-29s tailing them. Air Force One sustains heavy damage, as the F-15s manage to fight off the MiGs. With heavy damage and low fuel, it is determined that Air Force One cannot land safely, and a standby USAF special operations MC-130 is called to help, sending pararescuemen on tether lines to help rescue the survivors. Marshall's family and Shepherd are transferred first. When there is time for only one more transfer, Gibbs reveals his true intentions and kills Caldwell and the pararescueman. Marshall and Gibbs fight for control of the transfer line, and Marshall manages to grab and detach it at the last second. Air Force One crashes into the Caspian Sea, killing Gibbs. The MC-130 airmen reel Marshall in where he falls into his family's waiting arms. As confirmation is given of Marshall’s rescue, Bennett tears up the presidential incapacity order. The MC-130 is subsequently dubbed with the call sign of Air Force One, and flies safely away.
- Harrison Ford as U.S. President James Marshall: The President of the United States, Marshall is a Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. Feigning escape during Air Force One's hijacking, he attempts to retake the aircraft, while saving as many lives as possible.
- Gary Oldman as Egor Korshunov: A Russian Radek loyalist who leads the hijacking of Air Force One.
- Glenn Close as U.S. Vice President Kathryn Bennett: The Vice President of the United States, Bennett, throughout the Air Force One hijacking crisis, commands operations from the White House Situation Room, alongside Secretary of Defense Walter Dean and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Northwood. Despite all the tension, Bennett remains calm and collected during the entire ordeal, and refuses to make risky or poor decisions.
- Wendy Crewson as U.S First Lady Grace Marshall
- Liesel Matthews as First Daughter Alice Marshall
- Dean Stockwell as U.S. Defense Secretary Walter Dean
- Elya Baskin as Andrei Kolchak, Korshunov's best friend and pilot
- Levan Uchaneishvili as Sergei Lenski, Korshunov's henchman
- David Vadim as Igor Nevsky, Korshunov's henchman
- Andrew Divoff as Boris Bazylev, Korshunov's henchman
- Ilia Volok as Vladimir Krasin, Korshunov's henchman
- Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd
- Xander Berkeley as U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Gibbs, of Presidential Protective Division. A mole who secretly helps the terrorists take over Air Force One.
- William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell, USAF, military aide to the President
- Alan Woolf as Russian President Petrov
- Tom Everett as U.S. National Security Advisor Jack Doherty
- Jürgen Prochnow as General Ivan Radek: The dictator of a rogue terrorist regime in Kazakhstan that possessed stolen Soviet nuclear weapons, threatening to start a new Cold War, Radek's regime took the lives of 200,000 people. Captured by a joint Russian-American military ops team, Radek is imprisoned in Russia. The terrorists who take over Air Force One, demand Radek's release.
- Donna Bullock as Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell
- Michael Ray Miller as Colonel Axelrod, USAF, pilot of Air Force One: The pilot of Air Force One, Axelrod attempts to make an emergency landing after the hijacking begins. He orders the flight crew, "No matter what happens, we land this aircraft, is that understood?"
- Carl Weintraub as Lieutenant Colonel Ingraham, USAF, co-pilot of Air Force One: The co-pilot of Air Force One, Ingraham attempts to help Axelrod emergency land the plane after the hijacking begins.
- Spencer Garrett as White House Aide Thomas Lee
- Bill Smitrovich as General Northwood
- Glenn Morshower as U.S. Secret Service Agent Walters
- David Gianopoulos as U.S. Secret Service Agent Johnson
- Dan Shor as Notre Dame Aide
- Philip Baker Hall as U.S. Attorney General Andrew Ward
- Richard Doyle as Colonel Bob Jackson, USAF, Air Force One Backup Pilot
- Willard Pugh as White House Communications Officer
- Don R. McManus as Lt. Colonel Jack Carlton, F-15 "Halo Flight" Leader
- J.A. Preston as USAF Major General: Having been President Marshall's Commanding Officer during the Vietnam War, he is the first to anticipate that Marshall is battling the hijackers.