Still the Greatest Fictional President

Last year, I wrote about my favorite fictional Presidents in movies and television.  Harrison Ford in Air Force One topped my list.  As we celebrate Presidents Day once again, honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and remembering some of the other great leaders in American history, I'm still drawn to the heroic depictions of make-believe Commanders-in-Chief, and Ford's President James Marshall is the greatest of them all.

The movie was released in 1997, and director Wolfgang Petersen deftly managed to present many of the action movie cliches of the time in an exciting way.  The cast certainly helped, with Gary Oldman as the villain who spearheads a ballsy highjacking of the airplane that carries the leader of the free world, Glenn Close as the Vice President, and appearances by Dean Stockwell and William H. Macy, among others. But the heart and soul of the motion picture was Harrison Ford. 

Ford brought believability to the character -- I could picture this charismatic guy being elected President -- and he managed to play many of the far-fetched action scenarios with carefree abandon, making the audience suspend its disbelief as they cheered for him to beat the terrorists against all odds and save the day.

I wish there had been a sequel, because I would have liked to have seen the further action adventures of President Marshall.  Air Force One in many ways was a predecessor to some of the post-9/11 thrillers that became popular, such as 24

Yes, it was silly escapist entertainment, but it epitomized the genre at its finest.