Executive Decision (1996) Poster

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Skillfully crafted, and exciting
Samiam330 July 2009
I am curious to know how many Steven Seagal fans walked out of the theater after the first twenty minutes demanding their money back. It is a good thing that Exectutive Decision does not direct its attention towards Seagal. Instead it chooses to focus on suspense and thrills which is exactly what it offers. It is slow and ominous, even claustrophobic at times. The plot stays consistent, never getting too thick, and it keeps you focused, Which is good enough for me.

It will be hard to watch Executive Decision today and not think about 9/11. Islamic terrorists from Algeria highjack a 747 flying from Athens to D.C. they have loaded a nuclear weapon on board, and they are giving the US government until landing time to free one of the leading Islamic terrorist they have in custody, or they blow Washington. A small team of soldiers are sent out in a small aircraft, which will latch on to the jet and allow them to board in secret. With them is intelligence consultant David Grant, who knows that there is a bomb on board and what it is capable of. confined to the labyrinth of tiny corridors and storage cabins, our heroes have only a few hours, to find the bomb, defuse it and take out the terrorists, without being seen.

This is the directorial debut for Oscar nominated editor Stuart Baird, and he does a sensational job of crafting tension. It is not until the climactic twenty minutes where Executive Decision lets out all its energy. Baird really takes his time, and just occasionally it feels like the story could use a little tightening, but not too much.

The movie is not meant to be mind enriching, but in a way it does make you realize, how much we took freedom and safety for granted, before 9/11 occurred. If that disturbs you, than perhaps you should not see this movie. Anyone else who wants to be thrilled and on the edge of their seat should watch this one for sure
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Escapism with a touch of reality
Katz54 July 2005
I saw this in 1996 and thought it was extremely entertaining--an action movie with emphasis on suspense over shoot-em-up thrillers and explosions. Seeing it again, after the events in the past 4 years, is a different experience. Some of the fictional dialog has actually been quoted by fanatics in the news. I had the same reaction with Black Sunday with Robert Shaw. A movie meant as pure escapism is now more like "what if." Executive Decision does ask you to suspend disbelief several times, especially near the end. I would rank it up with Air Force One, which came out a year later and delivers the same type of "suspense over explosions" entertainment. And this film deserves extra kudos for making the ones that save the world a bit on the "misfit" side (Oliver Platt, John Leguizamo, Joe Morton, BD Wong, and yes, even Kurt Russell). Another nice slimy role for late character actor JT Walsh. And David Suchet makes a scary villain. Like the best villains (Alan Rickman from Die Hard comes to mind), he can be charming and terrifying at the same time.
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Does most things right
peefyn2 June 2015
This is a great 90s action movie. It has the exciting moments, the interesting plot and the mixture of characters that the period's action movies all tried to have. But at the same time, it downplays the one-man heroism that is often a big part of them (looking at you, McClaine!). The movie refers to this with the character played by Segal.

The most important part of this movie is the team. Early on people tries to break with the team, but mostly everyone is on the same page throughout the movie. At the end of the movie, one character kind-of goes against his team, but the focus is also on trusting one's teammates, something that the other guys does during this moment.

If you want a quintessential 90s action flick, this is a good pick!
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Even Seagal is good!
counterrevolutionary4 January 2003
A fun, tense, and exciting action/thriller with an excellent ensemble cast, headed by Kurt Russell and including Halle Berry, David Suchet, and John Leguizamo.

Even Steven Seagal does a creditable job, mainly because this isn't a "Steven Seagal movie." His supporting role permits him to do what he does best (which isn't acting). He doesn't have to pretend to be witty, there's none of that awful smirking he does in a vain attempt to show emotion, the camera doesn't caress his body, and there's not one speech about how gol-dang *good* his character is. He even manages to enunciate his lines clearly!

The plot might have seemed a little far-fetched when the movie was released, but not anymore.

I'm not even much of an action film fan, but this one is really a lot of fun.
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The Pentagon is gonna shoot us down.
Spikeopath20 December 2009
Terrorists hijack a jumbo jet with the apparent intention of getting an incarcerated comrade released from captivity. The American government are quick to react, and using a stealth plane, smuggle a crack team of commandos on board the mid-air jet. However, all does not go to plan as the terrorists motives come to light and the commandos are severely hampered by ill fortune and their resourceful foe.

Forget common sense or any semblance of probability, and just accept that Executive Decision is mindless, unadulterated fun. Every hostage/hijack cliché in the book is used by first time director Stuart Baird. From the roll call of character staples-the hero in waiting out of his depth- nerdy electronics geek-heroine trolley-dolly and Gung-Ho soldiers, to the by the numbers set of complications that come our intrepid heroes way. This is simple stuff that, although obviously given added emotional impetus post 9/11, remains a whole slice of tension pie laced with a disaster movie sauce.

Kurt Russell heads the cast as fish out of water suit, Dr. David Grant, and joining him for the malarkey is Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Joe Morton and Joe Leguizamo. Steven Seagal appears in an uncredited role, a role that in turn will either delight or annoy fans and haters of the pony tailed one. Leave your brain at the check in desk and board this particular jumbo jet. 6.5/10
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Suspense and plot twists for everyone...
JoH-222 October 2000
I enjoyed this one. Sure there were some implausible things: the speed of the counter-action, the strange fact that a complete change of the aerodynamics of a stealth bomber seems to cause zero disturbance... But all in all it was well within bearable limits. Don't expect to see a 100% realistic plot in a movie that is supposed to contain heros! In reality, they usually get shot or explode before they have the chance to become one :-)

Critical Decisions has a more than adequate mix of suspense, better-than-horrible acting, plot twists and mild humor to relieve the tension. Whereas a lot of movies in the same genre totally screw up one or more of those aspects. I'm thinking about the terribly balanced "humor" in The Rock, for example. Killing all tension and involvement..


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one word: dynamite!
Special-K8812 April 2002
Slam-bang thriller is an intense, pulse-pounding thrill ride from beginning to end. Russell stars as a smart but inexperienced intelligence analyst who's given the task of a lifetime when he, along with a group of rugged Special Forces commandos, must board an American 747 in midair after it's hijacked by ruthless international terrorists. It's a race against time as they must not only ensure the safety of all the passengers, but retake the plane before it can reach the U.S. eastern seaboard. Swift direction, exciting, skillful action sequences, endless suspense, and rock solid performances make this wild ride of a movie a definite must for action fans. ***
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Three things make this the best Steven Seagal movie ever
CherryBlossomBoy23 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
(...and seriously, a heavy spoiler follows:)

First: Seagal dies some 30 minutes into the film. Of course I, as a certified Seagal-hater, salute that fact and award a point to filmmakers. They couldn't escape catering to his ego, though, so his character was given an inappropriately high rank (in his other films he also always has some fancy title: ex-CIA, ex-Seal, whateversoundscool... oh, vanity). But, still... what a refreshment to see him off. Indeed I would never have seen this movie had it not been for a film critic who had given away the main spoiler. For me it wasn't a spoiler, it was a glimmer of hope. The fact that in the same accident, that killed off Lt. Colonel Austin Travis (chorus "Haaaalelujah"), Joe Morton's character is left crippled, which in turn crippled Morton's notorious overacting tendencies, is worth another full point.

Second: Seagal is actually very decent inside those 30 minutes. Luckily he was given mainly procedural dialog so his range of acting skills wasn't challenged. That way I was able to acknowledge that the man indeed has a screen presence, somewhat akin to John Wayne. It would be actually nice to watch him if he was any good. Too bad that he probably felt discouraged for being killed after giving his only decent performance so after this movie it was business as usual for him.

Third: Killing off what the audience supposed would be the main character may have been an amusing gimmick, may have been a nod to Hitchcock but was foremost a strategic element in building up a proper suspense. Now you knew you weren't in for a typical shoot-em-up flick that would see Seagal slapping bad guys around and spewing unfunny one- liners. You were instead wondering how the hell was Kurt Russel's character (a snobby analyst, despised by fellow rescuers) gonna save the day and wouldn't he also buy the farm in the process.

Perhaps another gimmick was casting of David Suchet. His fame mostly rises from portraying somewhat geeky and benign detective Poirot, and it presented such an effective and eerie contrast to make him the chief villain. He proved extremely convincing as charming, intelligent and brutally determined terrorist.

Another thing convincing is the plot. It may have felt a bit outrageous and far-fetched in 1996. but not unfeasible. It certainly doesn't feel that way now, no need to say why.

These elements, along with good (but not exceptional) direction and presence of beautiful Halle Berry, is enough to recommend "Executive Decision". I wonder how it will fare some 50 years from now, on its own merit, free from the context of audience knowing the cast and having expectations based on the knowledge. Perhaps not that bad, as it doesn't have that many flaws. Of all the "Die Hard" clones (which this movie is) this is one of those that captured the spirit of the original well in terms of putting an involuntary and unfit hero (in this case a group of them) to utilize what ever he's got and overcome the adversaries in a closed space.
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Great action film, that's quite effective, and rather tense, with a pretty solid story, and excellent performances! *Spoilers*
callanvass28 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great action film, that's quite effective, and rather tense, with a pretty solid story, and excellent performances!. All the characters are cool, and the only beef I really had with it was it was a tad overlong, plus Kurt Russell is simply amazing in this!. It's pretty well made and written, and the finale is especially tense, plus it was surprisingly unpredictable throughout. I will admit I disappointed that Steven Seagal got killed off right away, however I give him a lot of credit for taking this type of role, and Robert Apisa played a very good villain here and was menacing, plus it has quite a few shocking moments as well. All the characters are very likable, and Halle Berry has a small but cool role here, plus it has a decent amount of violence too. I was quite pleased with the ending, and a lot of the tense scenes were when Oliver Platt(Cahill) and Joe Morton("Cappy") are trying to stop the bombs, plus I would have loved seeing Russell and Seagal work as a team throughout the film. This is a great action film, that's quite effective, and rather tense, with a pretty solid story and excellent performances, I highly recommend this one!. The Direction is great!. Stuart Baird does a great! job here, with very good camera work, solid angles and just keeping the film at a very fast pace. The Acting is excellent!. Kurt Russell is amazing as always and is amazing here, he is extremely likable, funny, makes a very effective action hero, brought life and humor to his potentially boring character, and just did an amazing job overall! (Russell rules!!!!). Steven Seagal is very effective in his role, but we didn't get much time to know him because he gets killed off pretty quickly sadly, however I give him credit for taking this type of role, just wished he stayed alive (Seagal Rules!!!!!!!). Halle Berry is very good in her role here, she was charming, and made her part look bigger then it actually was, she's also gorgeous. John Leguizamo is pretty good here actually, he convinced me and was likable enough I rather dug him. Oliver Platt is great in his role, I'm not usually a big fan but he was great here. Joe Morton is great as the bomb specialist, I really liked him. Robert Apisa is excellent as the main villain, he was quite menacing, you will really hate him. Rest of the cast do fine. Overall I highly recommend this one!. ***1/2 out of 5
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The movie that you will never see as long as you're flying..
Nazi_Fighter_David22 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
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?
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Different After 9/11
fischcj27 July 2004
Like my review of "Air Force One", the counterpart of this movie which came out the following year, this movie takes on a whole new element in the post 9/11 world. When released, a terrorist taking control of an airplane and using it against American Citezens as a bomb seemed the stuff Hollywood would make up and produce. After those shocking events, however, the movie takes on a quality of realism that it didn't before, and unlike the aforementioned "Air Force One", is superior in many ways.

First off, the cast: Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, and the star-to-be Halle Berry star. Russell proves himself as a versatile Character Actor. Afterall, his previous role was that of a Special Operations Soldier in the Sci-Fi hit "Stargate", and in this movie he plays an intelligence analyst whom Special Operations Soldiers despise, and pulls it off well. Seagal completely convinces you he is the Soldiers Soldier that he is supposed to be. And Halle Berry, well, she deserves that Oscar she later won, and her abilities are showcased here. She was not the star then that she is today, and this is perhaps one of her many breakout appearances.

Second, all branches of the Armed Forces (save the Marine Corps) have a chance to shine in this movie. It shows a true devotion among the men who serve the United States. The Special Ops guys are Army, the delivery pilot is Air Force and the Tomcat Pilots are Naval Aviators along the lines of Maverick from "Top Gun".

In conclusion, this is a good movie that is under-rated, and in the wake of 9/11, seems that much more real.
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Tons of Suspense, Almost Too Much
ccthemovieman-15 June 2006
Most of this movie is simply one extremely long suspense scene as a team of Americans try to board a passenger jet, disarm a bomb and capture terrorists. After a 10-15 minute opening to set the story up, the rest of it (two hours) is the constant suspense of whether the mission will succeed and what happens along the way. With that much tension for so, the movie would have been more effective had it been cut 15-20 minutes.

However, it was never boring. It was far-fetched, however, but many action movies are just that, and this story wasn't stupid, by any means. I expected such with Kurt Russell and Steven Segal in it, but those two were much more subdued than usual.

Oliver Platt, Halle Barry, John Leguizamo and Joe Morton rounded out a very diverse and solid cast. This is one of those films that really grabs you the first time you see it, but after that, loses its appeal since the suspense is over. Definitely recommended for those who like to sit on the edge of their seat and be entertained.
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thomas-11029 July 2004
I am usually very picky about films and rarely watch action movies that don't have a nostalgic value but somehow I tuned into this one and I couldn't take my eyes off it. We're dealing with a flight hi-jacking and the situation has been seen before, but the way this story is told surprised me in a positive way.

It's trying to be realistic, and succeeds! Credits to the screenwriters for writing a story that everyone thinks they've seen before and still keeping the intensity throughout the film. Good acting from Kurt Russel, Oliver Blatt and especially John Leguizamp. This is an action-movie well worth watching. My rating: 7/10
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Breathtaking, pulse pounding, nail biting...in short an excellent thriller movie!
blaisecolaso13 March 2016
The plot and story of the movie can be narrated in one line like hijacking and then rescuing. But my word! the ingredients and flavors added to this one line plot are absolutely breathtaking.

I watched this movie on TV. I was just going through all the channels and only by chance I tuned in to this one. From the moment I started watching it I never left my seat. It is that thrilling. The suspense in the movie is one of the best I have ever seen. Full credit to the director. I have watched many other hijack movies like The Air Force One, Con Air....many I forgotten the name also but "Executive Decision" is cut above the rest. Last but not the least, the end of the movie could have been better. Should have given more credit to the commandos and the landing of the flight could have been shown on the main airport. Thank you for reading.
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Underrated Action Thriller
The Grand Master11 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Executive Decision is an underrated action thriller that should have done a lot better at the box office. The movie itself is very neat with several twists to keep everyone in suspense and the movie interesting.

The movie begins with a US Army Commando Team led by Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) who raid a safe house in Italy where it is believed members of the Chechen mafia are in possession of a stolen nerve agent DZ-5 which turns out to be unsuccessful. Dr David Grant (Kurt Russell) is later informed that a passenger flight from Athens to Washington, D.C. has been hijacked by Nagi Hassan (David Sutchet) and several other terrorists. The hijacking is in response to the capture of the world's most feared terrorist, El Sayed Jaffa, and Nagi Hassan want Jaffa to be released. It is also believed that the hijacked plane is carrying the stolen DZ-5 with the intention of detonating the bomb over U.S. airspace, wiping out the entire Eastern seaboard. A plan is made for a mid-air transfer of the commando team onto the hijacked airliner using an experimental F-117 stealth aircraft. Lt. Col. Travis's commando team includes Rat (John Leguizamo), Cappy (Joe Morton), Baker (Whip Hubley) and Louie (B.D. Wong). Also attached include aerospace engineer Dennis Cahill (Oliver Platt) who is responsible for the plan and Lt. Col. Travis insists David Grant comes along.

The mid-air transfer is almost successful however the mission runs into a few problems. Cappy is seriously injured and rendered paralyzed, leaving him unable to disarm the bomb. Lt. Col Travis sacrifices himself as he closes the 747's plane hatch and the boarding sleeve tears and sucks him out to his death. In a movie first and a shock to Steven Seagal fans worldwide, the invincible Steven Seagal has died in an action movie, not even making it half way through the film. Also, other equipment vital to the mission including communications were lost in transit. Now it is up to the remaining members of the commando team, David Grant, and Dennis Cahill to disarm the bomb, neutralise the terrorists, and save the passengers on board the plane as well as millions of innocent lives below. Also assisting the team as the eyes and ears on the plane is flight attendant Jean (Halle Berry).

Kurt Russell was excellent as intelligence officer David Grant who is thrust into the middle of the action. Kurt Russell is normally well known as the action hero in such movies as Escape from New York (1981), Tango and Cash (1989), and Stargate (1994). Here he is seen as more brains than brawn, much similar to a Jack Ryan movie. Steven Seagal was surprisingly good in a supporting role as the leader of a commando team. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Steven Seagal was the main actor of the movie, but his death surprised a lot of audiences. David Sutchet as the leader of the hijackers Nagi Hassan was good value. The supporting cast including John Leguizamo, Joe Morton, Oliver Platt, Halle Berry, and J.T. Walsh were also excellent.

There is not a dull moment in Executive Decision, and there are plenty of plot twists and a neat plot that keeps the movie interesting. Executive Decision was definitely underrated on release and it seems like it was dismissed an an implausible movie, but in this day and age particularly after the events of September 11 2001, it seems like a potential scenario that could occur. That aside, Executive Decision is still an enjoyable movie.

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Good watch, suspenseful
zeekmati28 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this movie was pretty darn good. It had a lot of suspense that lead up to a great final action sequence and decent acting. I think a lot of people are saying that the storyline is somewhat contrived because it deals with Islamic extremism, which by now has been done to death. In 1996, however, it was the "in" thing to do since movies with Soviets were dying down due to the end of the cold war and since it had not been explored as much before that.

In general, the characters are believable but the bad guys are a bit too over the top evil. Maybe I am only saying this because I couldn't actually imagine someone having such an evil plan to destroy the eastern seaboard of the US. But that's just me.

All in all, a good watch and a good example of how the 90s have some of the best action/thriller movies.
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*** stars
iron t21 May 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Have you noticed all Seagal movies are never longer than 105 minutes? That's because the man doesn't waste time. If he hadn't got killed 40 minutes into this one, the movie would have been a lot shorter as he would have efficiently wiped out these hijackers. Despite that, this is a reasonably suspenseful "assemble the squad" action flick. Seagal's the best action star around, but it might help his box office career if took some more supporting roles like this one.
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Life reflects art.
CuriosityKilledShawn4 December 1998
Warning: Spoilers
In the modern world, Exec Dec strikes closer to home than it originally intended as it eerily foreshadows 9/11 and other acts of terrorism. It makes for a perfect flip-side companion piece to the little-seen Paul Greengrass film United 93. In the world of Exec Dec the heroes save the day and America wins. In United 93 (and the real world) life isn't that simple. But since this was made 5 years prior to 9/11 it should be judged purely as entertainment and not as any political statement.

Kurt Russell plays David Grant, a United States Naval Academy graduate who works as a counter-terrorist expert for Army Intelligence who is called into the Pentagon when a group of Muslim extremists taken over a flight from Athens to Washington DC. After blowing up the restaurant of the London Marriott, they demand that their recently captured terrorist leader El Sayed Jaffa (think O.B.L.) be released and that they be given millions of dollars in gold bullion. Grant, suspects that this is merely a ploy to get into US airspace to set off a massive bomb rigged with huge supply of DZ-5 poison gas.

Their only apparent option is to blow the plane up over the ocean, killing everyone on-board and sending any evidence that they might have straight to the bottom of the Atlantic. But Colonel Travis (that's Steven Seagal folks!) suggests hooking up the 747 with a modified F-117x Remora stealth bomber while it's still in the air so he and his commandos can kick some terrorist ass. Dragged along for the ride, Grant and computer nerd Dennis Cahill (Oliver Platt) are to supervise the link-up and identify Cell Leader Nagi Hassan (David Suchet) from the Remora. But the link-up falters and only 4 commandos plus Grant and Cahill make it on-board. Travis is killed and the Remora is destroyed, along with most of their equipment.

With only a few hours before the plane reaches US airspace and the bare-minimum of equipment the group have to sneak around in the crawlspaces of airplane attics, cargo bays, and elevator shafts searching for the bomb and spying on the terrorists.

It's highly intense, superbly photographed and expertly edited entertainment. What first attracted me to Exec Dec was obviously the casting of Russell and Seagal but link-up with the Remora and the 747 is definitely one of the most unique action scenes in the past two decades and was the major selling point of the film for me.

I do realize that Seagal has many critics and most of them judge him far, far to harshly and play up his character's death in this film claiming that the only good thing about Exec Dec is 'the death of Seagal 10 minutes into an extended cameo'. Which is a totally foolish and untrue thing to say. Seagal is in the movie for a full 45 minutes before he dies. Which was done to shock the audience into believing that if Seagal dies then any of the cast could be next. And even if you're a Seagal hater (understandable considering his recent poor output) don't let that overshadow the rest of the film which is, in it's final half-hour, so exciting that you'll be so on the edge of your seat that you won't actually be sitting on it.

It does lose some of it's power when compared to the horror-show that is United 93, but like I said, they are either side of the same coin. In the world of Executive Decision the terrorist attacks of 9/11 would never have happened. And if 9/11 was an always inevitable event, then I guess the film IS far-fetched. But it was made pre-9/11 for entertainment, nothing else, so I guess I can forgive it for being so.
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Morally dubious, but mindlessly entertaining
Libretio28 December 2004

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS / SDDS

Normally, the name Steven Seagal would be enough to send any self-respecting movie fan screaming from theaters in a state of advanced colonic distress, but he makes only a brief appearance in this barnstorming blockbuster as the leader of a crack commando unit who is unceremoniously dumped (literally) from a great height during a botched rescue mission, leaving terrorist expert Kurt Russell to save the day for Humanity and the American Way. David Suchet (Hercule Poirot himself!) is the villain this time out, a fanatical Arab assassin who hijacks a passenger plane and threatens all manner of unpleasantness if the US doesn't release a fellow terrorist from custody. Russell manages to sneak on board the plane with Seagal's commando unit (now led by John Leguizamo), but they find themselves sharing space with a deadly nerve bomb, which Suchet intends to detonate over Washington DC, come what may...

Former editor Stuart Baird (THE OMEN, SUPERMAN) makes his directorial debut with this gung ho potboiler, which looks decidedly hammy post-9/11, and which could never be accused of enriching our understanding of the Human Condition. But the melodramatic script (by Jim and John Thomas) twists the screws for its papier-mâché characters before reaching a frenzied boiling point during the climactic confrontation between slimy foreign upstarts (mown down like skittles, without a second thought) and All-American good guys (invincible in triumph, martyred in defeat). Baird directs with sure-footed economy (the film doesn't feel padded at all, despite the 132 minute running time), and while some of the early scenes threaten to submerge viewers beneath a wave of unbridled testosterone, matters improve when Russell takes center-stage, playing the Everyman hero who proves every bit as resourceful as his militaristic companions. Halle Berry plays a terrified stewardess who helps save the day, while the main cast is bolstered by dependable talent in secondary roles (B.D. Wong, Joe Morton, George Coe, Len Cariou, etc.). Overblown stuff, and morally dubious to boot, but mindlessly entertaining nonetheless.
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Much better than expected
Leofwine_draca27 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I saw EXECUTIVE DECISION soon after its first release and remember being disappointed by the experience. I was a teenager back then and hoping for a ton of DIE HARD-on-a-plane style action, which I didn't get; even worse, the film was missold to me as a Steven Seagal movie, and the poor guy gets bumped off half an hour in. I wasn't impressed, and spent the rest of the film sulking.

Watching it some twenty years later, time has been kind to this film. It's actually better for NOT being another DIE HARD clone; there's a ton of suspense inherent in the premise of the guys having to hide from the terrorists and stay hidden for much of the running time. Sure, the bomb plot is done to death and Oliver Platt isn't a great actor, but everything else works nicely, particularly the direction which maximises every drop of tension from the narrative. Stuart Baird is best known for his work as an editor but also did U.S. MARSHALS, which I loved as well.

To say too much about this film's plot would be to spoil it, but it works nicely. Kurt Russell isn't bad as the hero but is outshone by almost everyone else, apart from the poor Halle Berry. David Suchet's villain is a scary one, but I liked the characters of the special forces team best. Joe Morton does injured very well again after TERMINATOR 2; John Leguizamo supplies attitude and a good tough guy demeanour; B.D. Wong has more screen time than JURASSIC PARK. Even J.T. Walsh is present in a minor role. The action, when it hits, is exciting stuff, and the film is only occasionally cheesy which is a surprise - it was the 1990s, after all.
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Best Segal film ever (spoiler in review)
Marty-959 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I accindentally zapped into this one and didn't know who were in it. After seeing Segal I was tempted to switch it off again. I hate that self-worshipping pile of martial arts tricks. Luckily Kurt Russel showed up a few seconds later, so I decided to give it a chance.

Lucky me; after about 15 minutes Segal gets sucked into thin air and there was no miraculous survival trick. Needless to say I watched the rest of the film through rose-coloured glasses and with a big grin on my face. And was it any good? Well it was a bit standard fare and predictable, but a decent thriller nevertheless. It amused me for an evening. 8 out of 10 (extra points for Segal's early death :)
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Any movie with Seagal in it, well................
marcmulder7025 January 2006
Maybe I am not the person to ask, but when Steven Seagal is in a movie, I just have to see it however big or small his part is in the movie. I am a fan and I have collected all of 'his' movies. I am a bit sad that he is getting a little older, but I watch the movies in a different perspective. His moves aren't what they used to be but in this movie you don't notice that at all ;-) On a serious note, the movie is well worth watching because of the plot. It's not that it is original but it is one of the best executed in it's genre. It makes you wonder if the terrorists have watched some of these kind of movies and got inspired to do something similar. Enjoy the movie!!!
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Glad I wasn't on that plane
blanche-230 July 2007
I couldn't believe it when I started to view this movie and who do I see but Steven Seagal. I thought, boy, I'm really losing it - because no way would I have watched it had I known he was in it. However, I'm so glad I did.

"Executive Decision" is a 1996 film and also stars Kurt Russell, John Leguziamo, David Suchet, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, B.D. Wong, Joe Morton, Len Cariou and a special appearance by "Marla Maples Trump" as Berry's fellow flight attendant. A team of American special forces commandos, led by an intelligence analyst rushed to the scene while he's still in his tuxedo (Russell) board a plane (in the most fascinating way) after it has been hijacked by terrorists in order to take out the terrorists and defuse the dangerous gas planted on board.

This is a movie jam-packed to the gills with heart-pounding suspense, tension and excitement. One of the best things about "Executive Decision" is its offbeat casting in the commando department: energetic, quirky John Leguziamo, Oliver Platt as a nervous wreck who is borderline nervous breakdown for most of the time and Joe Morton as a wounded bomb expert who manages to keep his sense of humor. On the villain side, David Suchet of "Hercule Poirot" fame proves again he is one of the best actors around - he's no fussy little Frenchman here but a steely-eyed, violent and committed terrorist. Kurt Russell does a terrific job, and boy is he great to look at. Halle Berry is a brave flight attendant - she has very few lines but does a lot of reacting. Marla Maples Trump looks very pretty.

In some of the film's tensest moments, there is some humor, making for a very entertaining film beautifully directed by Stuart Baird. I really didn't mind Seagal, either.

This is a pre-9/11 movie, and one wonders even then how these terrorists could have gotten so many weapons on board, not to mention that gas. Today of course, watching the action on the plane, it doesn't seem all that fictional. Next time I fly, I won't silently curse when I have to take off my shoes. I just hope the security is actually better.
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I hope there's a good movie on this flight....
FlashCallahan4 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Terrorists take over a plane bound from Athens to Washington, 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 planned, using a plane designed for mid-air crew transfers, and Grant finds himself aboard the plane with a team of soldiers who have to defuse a bomb and overpower the terrorists....

Everyone knows this film because it's the one where Seagal dies halfway through, and this would have more brilliant if they hadn't shown this pivotal scene in the trailer.

But beyond that, it's a really good movie, and all the cast are great. Yes it's basically Die Hard, but there is so much urgency going on, it's forgivable that it's following such a simple format.

Suchet is wonderful as the villain, very calm, but very deadly at the same time, and the film is full of humour, which comes as a relief in some of the more tense scenes.

If you are a fan of Joel Silver, it's one of his better films from the nineties, and is pretty old school, in it's delivery of lines and tropes.

Plus it's the best film ever made where it looks like two people are going to high five, and then the film cuts to a different scene...
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"I hope there's a good movie on this flight." The action film guaranteed never to make it as an in-flight feature!
poolandrews28 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Executive Decision starts as intelligence analyst for the US Government Dr. David Grant (Kurt Russell) learns that middle Eastern terrorist El Sayed Jaffa (Andreas Katsulas) has been captured & handed over to US officials to stand trial. Meanwhile in Athens, Greece an Oceanic Boeing 747 headed for Washington D.C. is taking off, shortly into the flight a group of Islamic hijackers lead by extremist Naggi Hassan (David Suchet) forcibly take control of the air-plane taking hostage it's 400 passengers & crew. Naggi demands the immediate release of Jaffa (cake?) & safe passage to Washington, in a high level meeting Grant says he believes that a large amount of a deadly nerve gas that would be enough to wipe out the entire Eastern seaboard is on the plane ready to kill millions of Americans. A plan is quickly devised to board the 747 in the air & take out the terrorists before the plane reaches US airspace. What could possibly go wrong?

Directed by Stuart Baird this is the big budget action flick that may make uncomfortable viewing these days after the events which occurred a few years later & you know exactly what I'm talking about. The script by producers Jim & John Thomas is your typical Hollywood action fare, the patriotic American military charge into some dire situation & save the day, the hostages & America. Don't get me wrong because this is a perfectly decent & entertaining action film although I would lean towards describing it as more of a thriller as most of it's running time is devoted to the disarming of a bomb & the race against time before the terrorists get a chance to use it on America. It's just that it makes for strange viewing after world events, the plot of middle Eastern terrorists who hijack a plane & intend to use it to create widespread destruction & death cuts a little close to the bone these days, don't you think? Anyway, this has a few plot holes & a few far fetched coincidences like the only guy who can defuse the bomb happens to break his neck, the military team who always just about manage to avoid being seen & someone being able to land a 747 without ever having actually been inside the cockpit of one before. When all said & done though Executive Decision isn't anything more than a big budget popcorn flick with some memorable set-pieces, a likable main hero, some eye candy, lots of guns, shoot-outs & explosions along with fairly tightly paced story. Executive Decision is pretty good for it's type actually, you could do a lot worse.

Making his directorial debut Baird does OK, he keeps the one-liners & wisecracks down to a minimum although I did think it went on for about 15 minutes too long & I think a two hour duration would have been better. For those interested Seagal dies fairly early on & doesn't get much screen time which I thought was an odd choice because at the time was a rising star. The violence isn't overly excessive, there's a fair amount of gun play & gory gunshot wounds but not much else. The action scenes are quite well done with the climatic landing of the 747 probably the best sequence although some of the model shots look a bit fake.

With a supposed budget of about $55,000,000 Executive Decision had enough cash spent on it so it goes without saying this has the look & polish of a big budget Hollywood flick, it's well made with a good star studded cast including Kurt Russell who I've always liked, Steven Seagal who apparently at first refused to film his death scene because he thought his fans wouldn't like it (I wish he was that considerate regarding some of his latest films!), John Leguizamo, the ever awful Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Joe Morton, the ever excellent David Suchet & the imaginatively named Ahmed Ahmed!

Executive Decision is a solid big budget action flick that I liked if not because it kills Seagal off early on & I've always liked Kurt Russell, however it's sometimes not an easy film to watch considering world events & at well over two hours it's a bit too long. It has a strange sort of feeling but it's a good film none the less & what subsequently happened in real life wasn't it's fault. One for action junkies.
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