We don't see as many airplane hijacking films nowadays, but way back in the last millennium, in 1996, an exciting film by the name of Executive Decision brought some originality to the genre.
Kurt Russell heads the cast of Steven Seagal, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, and Joe Morton as a Pentagon specialist who believes that a hijacked passenger jet is actually carrying loads of a lethal nerve gas that could wipe out half of the Eastern seaboard. The original part (if not a slight bit unrealistic) is that the heroes are not already on board the plane; they have to get on board mid-flight, disarm the bomb, and take over.
The acting is pretty good (better than what can be expected), although the dialogue has some flaws. There are a lot of cheesy little lines here and there, and most of which were not intended to be. For example, Russell says, "2-1-C," and then turns to another soldier and they both burst out at the same time, "Twenty-one C!" We have some smart people here.
In terms of suspense, Executive Decision has it. I've seen it so many times that some of the thrill is gone, but there are many memorable scenes, such as when the soldiers are boarding the plane and later when they take over. A lot of the movie deals more with the soldiers preparing with the attack and defusing the bomb, so there's not as much gun fighting as some would suspect. Still, it works out for the better and I feel that Executive Decision, with the exception as to how they got onto the plane (I'm not panning it, either), is fairly realistic.
I especially liked the early death of one character, which was a big surprise.
Halle Berry also brings a new element to the movie as the flight attendant caught in the middle. She portrays a fairly accurate if not overly brave person, as she sort of counters between the terrorists and the soldiers. There are some suspenseful moments involving her. Of course, at the end she becomes a love interest, which sort of plagues the movie, but oh well.
There are a lot of good airplane hijacking movies but Executive Decision ranks up there with the best. It has a good cast and several different elements of suspense.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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