Executive Decision (1996)

Aircraft silhouetted against an afternoon sky.  The music on the
soundtrack surges; the actors grow into terse, tense expressions.
A dangerous mid-air transfer is about to happen onto an endangered
747.  Could it be Charleton Heston, about to be lowered into a
cockpit to rescue Karen Black?  No!  It's never-aging Kurt Russell
and a team of commandos raiding a hostage-held jetliner that's
armed with nerve gas for use on a suicide mission.  Wohoo!  The
disaster film lives!

Twenty-one years since AIRPORT '75 and the formula still works
wonders, though with a few necessary changes:  instead of a mid-air
collision causing problems, it's Middle-Eastern terrorists; instead
of Gloria Swanson on board, the biggest name on the passenger list
is Marla Maples Trump.  (She has a cameo as a stewardess.)  The
expected emergency landing stays, but they've added an entire DIE
HARD subplot that has Russell and his crack commandos methodically
plotting a takeover.   All that's missing is George Kennedy's

EXECUTIVE DECISION is shameless fun from producer Joel Silver and
editor-turned-director Stuart Baird.  The Jim and John Thompson
(PREDATOR, PREDATOR 2) script steals from everywhere-- AIRPORT,
FAIL SAFE, SPEED-- and, once it gets airborne, the darn thing works
wonders.  The attention to casting detail is particularly good:
J.T. Walsh as a worried Senator on board, Steven Seagal as the
squinty commando leader, Halle Berry as the stalwart stewardess.
And the list of good players goes on:  Joe Morton, Oliver Platt,
John Leguizamo.  No particular character is written *that* well,
but they gel into one of the better action ensembles that we've
seen in some time.  Recommended.  (Rated "R"/129 min.)

Grade: B

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: March 10, 1996

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