Combustible Celluloid Review - Air Force One Down (2024), Steven Paul, James Bamford, Katherine McNamara, Ian Bohen, Dascha Polanco, Rade Serbedzija, Anthony Michael Hall
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With: Katherine McNamara, Ian Bohen, Dascha Polanco, Rade Serbedzija, Anthony Michael Hall
Written by: Steven Paul
Directed by: James Bamford
MPAA Rating: R for violence throughout and language
Running Time: 87
Date: 02/09/2024

Air Force One Down (2024)

1 Star (out of 4)

Plane Dumb

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

An action thriller that's as scant on imagination and logic as it is on budget, this tired, dumb movie at least has a promising female hero, but unfortunately betrays her by doing everything wrong.

Allison Miles (Katherine McNamara) trains to become a member of the Secret Service, like her Uncle, Sam Waitman (Anthony Michael Hall). Her first day on the job, she is asked to fill in for an absent agent on Air Force One. It's an exciting day, until terrorists hijack the plane.

Armed with insider knowledge likely provided by a mole, every single Secret Service agent is dispatched, except Agent Miles. She manages to get to President Edwards (Ian Bohen) and parachute him off the plane. Unfortunately, they land right in enemy territory, and right in the hands of General Rodinov (Rade Serbedzija), the Astovian terrorist who engineered the evil plot.

Coming from the writer of the Baby Geniuses movies, Air Force One Down starts not so much with character development, but flat dialogue about Agent Miles's opinion on the president ("he had everything handed to him"). This is followed by ridiculous shortcuts, getting the rookie agent on the titular plane on her first day, and the terrorists taking over as if nothing were standing in their way.

When the movie finally slows down for some actual character development, it's more of the same: opinions and statements, rather than personalities. Everyone seems to have some kind of agenda, and none of it makes much sense. (The president is pursuing a fossil fuel deal rather than moving toward green energy.)

But perhaps the movie's most perplexing decision is to spend so much of its running time watching Miles punch, kick, shoot, stab, and otherwise blitz dozens of villains. The choreography is fine, but the cinematography is not; it's shaky, choppy, and often ill-lit. But it's the sheer, bludgeoning repetition that kills it. It's relentlessly tiresome.

Air Force One Down isn't even creative enough to choose a title that would distance it from the similar and much better Air Force One (1997). Star McNamara clearly put in the work for this movie, and she deserved better.

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