Wild Wild West 1999, Captain America 1990, Escape From New York 1981, Olympus Has Fallen 2013, White House Down 2013, and Air Force One 1997
This marathon to put it bluntly is FUN. One of the main reasons why people go to the movies is to be entertained and taken on a journey. This marathon has all of that and more with the journey being the president of the United States being protected by his bodyguards and fighting for survival under dire circumstances. One of the reasons this marathon works is not because it's a fun concept but it shows the depths our heroes will go to save the life of someone they may agree or disagree with politically. Many of the presidents in tonight's marathon show truly heroic traits and principles along with presidents that turn out to be half-hearted and careless about the sacrifices being committed to save them. The filmmakers behind many of these movies wanted to present heroic figures with not just those who rescue the presidents but the commander in chief themselves, mainly because they wanted to give the audience leaders they can believe in and empathize with. The problem with todays society is that many people have lost respect for the office or what being a president means, and look down on them as either corrupt, incompetent, or uninformed about the problems in society. This marathon doesn't deny any of that but makes a simple point that at the end of the day, the president is the leader of the free world and is human like the rest of us. The first movie of the lineup begins the theme of saving the president during the western era with 1999's critically panned blockbuster Wild Wild West starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Selma Hayek. The plot of this movie focuses on two Government agents named Jim West and Artemus Gordon, the best hired agents in the West who must put aside each others differences and save the president from the clutches of a crazed 19th century inventor whose created a doomsday weapon (The 80 ft Spider) to force the United States to surrender to the confederate army. Wild Wild West was a commercial success but received horrific reviews upon it's release and is generally considered one of Will Smith's worst films to date. In defense of this film, it falls into the category of so bad its good as time has been kinder towards it and other worse films have made it look good in comparison. Cough After Earth Cough. The film is an entertaining thrill ride and a strong introduction for the theme of protecting and saving one of the earliest United States president named Ulysses S. Grant. As long as one doesn't take the plot of the film seriously nor consider it historical fact surrounded around a real life individual, then Wild Wild West provides the fun and entertainment. The second movie in the lineup is the 1990 critically doomed first attempt at making a Captain America movie. In this version of the iconic superhero's origin story, Captain America is frozen in the ice for decades and freed to battle his arch-nemesis Red Skull whose taken hostage the president of the United States. It is up to Captain America to save him as the fate of the free world lies in the hands of Red Skull. Budgetary problems prevented this one from ever gaining a theatrical release in America though internationally it secured releases and made it's way to home video. Although the film is nowhere near the quality and spectacle of the newer Captain America films with Chris Evans, this 1990 version carries with it heavy doses of patriotism and has a president who would rather give his life for his country than to be used for Red Skulls plan. There's just something about Captain America saving the life of the President that makes it totally fit into this theme regardless of quality. The third movie of the lineup is one of the defining films of John Carpenters career titled Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance and Isaac Hayes. The plot for the film places the timeline in 1997 where New York has become a maximum security prison. The presidents plane Air Force One has been hijacked and crashes in New York but not before the president escapes in a pod. The president gets captured by the gang running New York led by a leader named Duke. Not knowing that the president has a tape on him that could bring about nuclear war, it is up to a captured bank robber and ex soldier named Snake Plisskan to be sent into New York to rescue the President within 22 hours or both Snake and the rest of the world will face Judgment Day. Escape From New York plays off great imagination and remains one of the great B movies John Carpenter made back in his 1980s hot streak. The fourth movie of the marathon is 2013's Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Aaron Eckhart in the title roles. The film centers around a secret service agent who was removed from his position for failing to rescue the first lady from a tragic accident. When the White House becomes under siege, it's up to Butler's character to save him from Korean terrorists. Olympus is the film that takes the marathon in a more serious direction and pushes the patriotism into hyperdrive. It's successor White House Down starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and James Woods uses the exact same plot except takes it in a slightly different direction. Besides Jamie Foxx playing a president inspired by the nations first black president named Barack Obama, the film focuses on a Capitol policeman and his daughter visiting the White House during a tour. When the White House gets taken by a group of paramilitary leaders, the Capitol policeman played by Channing Tatum springs into action to protect both the president and his daughter while fighting off the invaders. White House Down takes a more serious and realistic approach to the theme of the presidents house being under siege than Olympus Has Fallen, with more twists and turns coming in terms of who is good and whose on the villains side. Unfortunately the film didn't achieve the same kind of box office success that Olympus Has Fallen achieved but remains just as entertaining as Olympus with more believable villains. The sixth and final movie of the evening is the one that brings it all home, and is perhaps the best film of the entire lot. Wolfgang Peterson's Air Force One starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Wendy Crewson, and Glenn Close centers around the hijacking of the plane that transports the President from one location to another. When group of Russian terrorists seize control of the plane in hopes of forcing the president to release a general under custody, the president played by Harrison Ford goes into hiding as his family is captured and fights to save everyone on the plane. Nominated for two academy awards including Best Film Editing and Best Sound, Air Force One has become an action movie classic thanks to the dynamic performances of the two leads such as Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. It's the ultimate twist in the marathon whereas the president doesn't need someone to save him but he ends up saving everyone else including his family. You'll never forget the words "Get Off My Plane."
So what is this marathon trying to say when you look at all the films and the ending of Air Force One. This marathon basically says that just because you don't agree with a presidents political views, they deserve to be respected and protected. A president can represent more than just a leader in office but a symbol of hope for the free world and a force that can inspire change within the world. Anti heroes such as Snake Plisskan can become heroes by the end of their journeys and redeem themselves from past sins. Great secret service agents such as Gerard Butler in Olympus as Fallen deserve a second chance to prove themselves, and capitol police officers such as Channing Tatum are worthy of becoming secret service agents. Saving the life of the president and protecting him regardless of how they are as people can represent the ultimate form of patriotism.
Our characters for this evening: