Picks and Pans Review: Air Force One

updated 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman

Harrison Ford is the dream President. Playing the leader of the free world in Air Force One (see cover story, page 90), he is as principled as Lincoln, as plain talking as Truman, as easy on the eyes as Kennedy and, as a former Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, as ready to bash heads as any villain. Who wouldn't vote for this guy?

Air Force One, a rousing thriller directed with exemplary proficiency by Wolfgang Petersen {Das Boot and In the Line of Fire), hits cruising speed with its first scene and never slows down. The movie pits Ford against a renegade Kazakhstan terrorist (Oldman, convincingly wild-eyed) who hijacks the presidential plane and holds a gun to the head of the First Lady (Wendy Crewson) and the 12-year-old First Daughter (Liesel Matthews). It is up to Ford, secreted down in the bowels of the jet when Oldman and his band of terrorists first take over, to outfox the hijackers and save his family and the-other hostages onboard.

Among those ably supporting him on the ground are Glenn Close, as the flinty Veep, and Dean Stockwell, who adds a touch of vinegar as an Al Haig-like ("I'm in charge here," he says) Secretary of Defense. But AF1 belongs to Ford. With his aw-shucks demeanor and air of unflinching moral rectitude, he is as close as we come in today's Hollywood to Gary Cooper. (R)

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