Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Air Force Two (2006)

Air Force Two (2006)
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Starring: David Keith, Mariel Hemingway, David Milbern, Jill Bennett
Format: DVD (Flashback)

I got this low budget DVD as part of a "5 Disc Action Collection" released by Flashback Entertainment. I popped it into the DVD player in search of something low key to watch on a Sunday night, without knowing anything about it.

The first thing I noticed was the name Brian Trenchard-Smith pop up on screen as director, which got my attention. The ozploitation legend directed some real classics in the 70s and 80s (TURKEY SHOOT, DEAD-END DRIVE IN, FROG DREAMING, BMX BANDITS etc), before getting the "honour" of doing two Leprechaun sequels in the 90s. He's carried on working consistently since then, although the names of some of his more recent movies (Atomic Dog? Pimpin' Pee Wee?) had me curious and a little worried.

The second thing I noticed was that the scenery looked very familiar, and so did a lot of the minor cast members and extras. A quick check of IMDB.com confirmed that this movie (known as IN HER LINE OF FIRE upon release) was shot here in my home nation, New Zealand.

David Keith (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, FIRESTARTER) is US Vice President Walker, whose plane (the titular Air Force Two) crashlands in the Pacific Ocean. Walker, secret service agent Lynn Delaney (Hemingway, STAR 80) and a reporter (Bennett) wash up on an island inhabited by military rebels, headed by the maniacal Armstrong (Milbern). Capturing the second most powerful man in the western world would be quite a coup for Armstrong and his men, but the VP is an ex-soldier and his secret service gal-pal is quite the Rambo-ette, so it's not going to be easy.

The acting is good across the board, with veterans Keith and Hemingway dependable as ever. Milbern also stands out as the bad guy - his look and acting style kept reminding me of Bruce Willis (not a bad thing). The action is okay, but sadly you wouldn't know this is a Trenchard-Smith movie if you didn't see the credits. Fans of his ozploitation stuff will be disappointed if they're expecting anything like that.

Other reviews of this movie mention a lesbian love subplot between the characters played by Hemingway and Bennett (the latter, according to IMBD is openly lesbian), but there was nothing of that in the cut I watched. I guess that plot point was taken out for some releases? It's a shame, because it might have lifted Air Force Two above the level of run-of-the-mill action flick.

I probably enjoyed Air Force Two a little big more than most non-New Zealanders will. I had fun playing spot-the-Kiwi-actor, and also got a few laughs out of the island terrorists speaking in their native tongue (in reality the actors were just stringing together a bunch of non-sequitor words in our native tongue, Maori). But for the non-NZ viewer this is an adequate if unspectacular time waster. It's worth a watch on a lazy afternoon.

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