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Executive Decision (1996)

R  |   |  Action, Adventure, Thriller  |  15 March 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 38,993 users  
Reviews: 139 user | 59 critic

When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a midair boarding operation.


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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean, Flight Attendant
Sergeant Louie (as B. D. Wong)
Secretary of Defense Charles White
El Sayed Jaffa
Allison, Flight Attendant
Nancy, Flight Attendant (as Marla Maples Trump)
William James Jones ...


Terrorists take over a 747 bound from Athens to Washington D.C., supposedly to effect the release of their leader. Intelligence expert David Grant suspects another reason and convinces the military that the 'plane should not be allowed to enter U.S. airspace. An assault mission is devised, using a specially equipped 'plane designed for mid-air crew transfers, and Grant finds himself aboard the 747 with a team of military anti-terrorists who have to defuse a bomb and overpower the terrorists. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Fasten your seat belts See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 March 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Critical Decision  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,204,433 (UK) (17 May 1996)


JPY 153,472,300 (Japan) (29 November 1996)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The face of Steven Seagal was added on German cinema posters/VHS covers to attract more viewers, as he is quite popular there. See more »


Grant does not use reverse thrust after landing, but just pulls the throttles back to cut the engines. When he does so, the engine sound rises as if he was applying power (presumably reverse thrust). See more »


Cappie: If you screw up, you'll never know it.
See more »


Features Born to Be Wild (1995) See more »


Written by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen
Performed by Frank Sinatra
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under Licence from CEMA Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The movie that you will never see as long as you're flying..
22 November 2003 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

The film concerns a transatlantic flight, hi-jacked between Athens and Washington, D.C.

The hijackers are a group of heavily armored suicide fanatical terrorists...

Their motivation is supposedly to free a feared and wanted terrorist, recently handed over to US authorities, arrested, and taken to a warship in the Mediterranean...

The President has two options: to let the passenger fleet proceed to the United States or destroy it before it gets there along with hundreds of passengers...

Steven Seagal is the commando leader who recognizes the threat, but proposes to use a modified Stealth fighter especially designed for mid-air crew transfers, and thus allow his elite anti-terrorist unit to sneak the Boeing 747, localize and eventually disarm the bomb, and overtake the hijackers...

Kurt Russell is the Pentagon intelligence analyst, who believes that the hijacking is just a ruse, that the deadly nerve toxin is on board, and that the terrorists are planning to use it and the airplane as 'a sort of poor man's atomic bomb, to be detonated over Washington..'

Halle Berry is the brave helpful stewardess who understood the message of the striking team... She has to identify for them, the passenger who is in control of the bomb...

David Suchet is the terrorist who can endanger us all! He is Jaffa's deputy director, Nagi Hassan fanatically driven by hatred and violence... This nasty man seizes control of the air carrier and plans to kill everyone on board...

Oliver Platt is the aerospace engineer, who can isolate the bomb's power sources only if he could control his nerves...

Joe Morton is the bomb disposal expert who guides Platt through the disabling of the bomb...

J. T. Walsh is the ambitious senator who wants to be seen as the savior of the hostages, an image that won't hurt him in the presidential elections...

John Leguizamo (Seagal's second in command..) hopes for a good movie on board...

Thanks to a solid cast and plenty of action and suspense, Stuart Baird's 'Executive Decision' could be a timely reminder to one deceptively simple question: How can we stop hijackers from using planes as weapons?

43 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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