Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Executive Decision (1996) Review:

Kurt Russell does it again! It is very rare to catch Kurt Russell making a bad film and it's no surprise to me that he makes this film just as exciting as the many others that he's done in the past. And it's not just him either; Russell is paired up with several other actors to make this movie good. Executive Decision (1996) is the story of when a small military group and a few civilians take on an impossible looking task when an airplane is hijacked by terrorists.

There isn't much to say about Kurt Russell and his character, Dr. David Grant, because it's likable like any other character that he's done before. Because Grant's a civilian in this story, of course he's going to be much more nervous than his military counterparts.

Grant (Russell) & Cahil (Platt) try to figure their way
through a bomb procedure
Two other civilians that play key roles in this story is engineer Dennis Cahil (Oliver Platt) and flight attendant Jean (Halle Berry). Platt is good making his character sound like he knows what he's talking about, until he's called upon to diffuse a bomb, but hey, I'd be nervous too if I was him. Halle Berry also plays her role quite accurately as a nervous but strong willed flight attendant. If the situation were for real, it would take a lot of guts to put herself in so much danger.

John Leguizamo, BD Wong, Joe Morton, Whip Hubley and Steven Seagal play the military squad. All of which I commend for their believable and entertaining performances as troopers under the gun and under a lot of pressure. Even the actors who portrayed the terrorists did a good job at instilling fear in the plot.

What specifically makes this film so good though is how continuously stressful the situation is and becomes as the plot runs it course. Plus, there are several times where the possibility of the covert operation being discovered by the terrorists. And if it's not this, it's the fact that there's the possibility of a bomb going off. In many peoples' opinion, the stakes are way too high and there are too many odds against them. And for a while, I was thinking that too!

Halle Berry in her most suspenseful role
Adding to the suspense is Jerry Goldsmith's score to the film. In some ways it sounds like a premature attempt at the Small Soldiers (1998) theme, but either way it works well. My only complaint with Goldsmith is that he couldn't make one last track for the credits. Why? Which leads me to the problems I had with this film.

The ending is good to this movie but the way it transitions in tone from high tension to relaxation is way too abrupt. I won't say much, because I don't want to give it away but how does playing a Frank Sinatra tune at the credits appropriate to the ending? It's like the main characters are just purposefully forgetting all the damage that occurred through the whole movie! Yeah,...everything's all happy-go-lucky.

Then there's the whole issue with the innocent bystanders who die in this movie. Yes, this movie is rated R, not everyone lives (but I won't say who)! How did the Thomas brothers (Jim & John) forget to write in a scene where the people who were lost are given a respectful burial? Isn't that kind of important? And finally, if any viewer doesn't like constant whispering, then I would not recommend this film because for the most of the beginning, everyone's whispering. To me, it wasn't a big deal but speaking softly is preferred than whispering. Overall, I was satisfied with the result, I just wish the ending wasn't so oddly weird.

The suspense is really high in this film and all the actors play their parts really well. Just watch out for the ending, which seems a little out of place.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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