CONTAINS: THE PERFECT STORM: AIR FORCE ONE: IN THE LINE OFFIRE: AND DAS BOOT.
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Air Force One
You know that old dramatic principle of suspension of disbelief? You'll have to rely on it for this box-office smash, but you won't be disappointed. Harrison Ford plays a U.S. president who single-handedly employs his rigid antiterrorism policy when a band of Russian thugs hatch a mid-flight takeover of Air Force One. Gary Oldman, who chews the scenery as the lead terrorist, will shoot a hostage at the slightest provocation. Glenn Close plays the sternly pragmatic vice president who negotiates with Oldman from her Washington seat of power. If you can believe that the aircraft's pressurized cabin can sustain hundreds of rounds of machine-gun fire, you'll buy anything in this entertaining potboiler, especially thanks to Ford's stalwart heroics and some nifty special effects. Director Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot) keeps the action moving so fast you won't be sweating the details. Don't forget your parachute! --Jeff Shannon
This is the restored, 209-minute director's cut of Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and claustrophobic U-boat thriller, which was theatrically rereleased in 1997. Originally made as a six-hour miniseries, this version devotes more time to getting to know the crew before they and their stoic captain (Jürgen Prochnow) get aboard their U-boat and find themselves stranded at the bottom of the sea. Das Boot puts you inside that submerged vessel and explores the physical and emotional tensions of the situation with a vivid, terrifying realism that few movies can match. As Petersen tightens the screws and the submerged ship blows bolts, the pressure builds to such unbearable levels that you may be tempted to escape for a nice walk on solid land in the great outdoors--only you wouldn't dream of looking away from the screen. --Jim Emerson
In the Line of Fire
Between his directorial duties on A Perfect World and The Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood starred in this pulse-racing 1993 thriller. In the Line of Fire was directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the brilliant director of the World War II U-boat masterpiece Das Boot. Eastwood gives one of his best performances as Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan, who still feels responsible for the death of JFK 30 years earlier. Horrigan gets a shot at redemption when challenged by a psychotic but highly intelligent assassin (John Malkovich) who intends to kill the current U.S. president. Tension builds as this intellectual cat-and-mouse game reaches its climactic confrontation, but not before we've seen the killer at work, covering his trail with ruthless precision. Tightly scripted by Jeff Maguire, the film cuts Malkovich loose as one of the most memorable screen villains of the 1990s, and costars Rene Russo as Eastwood's sharp Secret Service colleague and romantic partner. --Jeff Shannon
The Perfect Storm
Setting out for the one last catch that will make up for a lackluster fishing season, Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney) pushes his boat the Andrea Gail out to the waters of the Flemish Cap off Nova Scotia for what will be a huge swordfish haul. While his crew is gathering fish, three storm fronts (including a hurricane) collide to create a "perfect storm" of colossal force, and Billy's path back to Gloucester, Massachusetts, takes them right smack into the middle of it. Wolfgang Petersen's adaptation of Sebastian Junger's seafaring bestseller is a faithful if by-the-numbers true-story account of a monster storm that rocked New England in 1991, specifically Tyne's commercial fishing boat and its crew. Junger's tale fashioned a compelling if staid narrative out of seemingly disparate events, but this film adaptation tends to flatten out the story into a conventional if absorbing story of man vs. nature, as the crew fights for survival against the awesome waves the storm kicks up. The central part of the film, which cuts between the Andrea Gail's fight to stay afloat and the attempts of the Coast Guard to rescue a yacht in peril, is suspenseful action of the first degree, aided by some awesome computer-generated waves. Still, it's a long way to that action, with an extended first act that consists mainly of stoic men, crying women, and a fair amount of "don't go out into the sea" dialogue--in other words, a compelling story has been shoehorned into standard summer movie fare. It's too bad, as Peterson assembled an excellent cast--including Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, John C. Reilly, and William Fichtner among them--but seems to opt for only a surface exploration of these characters, though Clooney seems to have a touch of Captain Ahab in him. You may still be won over by the movie, but for a more in-depth portrait, go to Junger's book for the missing details. --Mark Englehart
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