I Can't Believe I Watched That
(A continuing series on films from my childhood that I discovered on Netflix Watch Now)
Directed by Stuart Baird
In which: Steven Seagal dies. (Also, Dr. David Grant (Kurt Russell) saves the US Government by leading a team of tough talking Marines in a mid flight raid on a 747 hijacked by terrorists hoping to detonate a viral bomb over Washington, DC and scores a date with a gorgeous flight attendant (Halle Berry)).
I can't believe they killed him When Executive Decision came out, Seagal's career was on a role. He d made Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice, Under Siege, and Under Siege 2. On Deadly Ground had recently been released, a harbinger of the terrible things to come (I'm looking at you Fire Down Below), but for all intents and purposes Seagal was an unbeatable killing machine. He had made Die Hard on a boat, and we were all expecting him to be kicking ass in this Die Hard on a plane. And then this film went and killed him. It was a shocking move - right out of Hitchock (I am comparing Steven Seagal to Hitchcock) - and I remember it completely blowing the mind of my teenage self. As an adult however, all I see is a death that marked the end of a once successful career. Yeah, Seagal does die heroically sacrificing himself to save his team and stop the terrorists. Then again he also dies cause of a loose pin. Like Britney Spears, whose career was never the same after the world saw her lose her virginity in Crossroads, Seagal lost his invulnerability when he died and with it, his audience.
The movie itself actually holds up pretty well. I was actually shocked by the level of cast. In addition to Russell, Seagal and Berry, the producers managed to enlist the talents of Oliver Platt, John Leguizamo, Joe Morton, BD Wong, JT Walsh, and Marla Maples Trump... er, let's disregard that last one. I wonder if this film is what inspired Jerry Bruckheimer to populate the flight of Con Air with a stalwart indie cast? Russell does a fine job as desk jockey forced into action. Though I will give the filmmakers shit for introducing his character taking flight lessons thereby foreshadowing that Russell will eventually have to fly the 747. We're living in a post-Airplane world here! The hero should never fly the plane. I mean, how you guys were smart enough to kill of Steven Seagal, and yet couldn't come up with something less obvious I'll never know.
That said, Executive Decision is the kind of b-movie that is perfect for when you are sick on your couch and need some good mindless entertainment to help pass the time. Oh yeah, and once again Hollywood proves that the idea of turning a plane into a deadly weapon was really not all that inventive.
What the critics said then:
Hope there's a good movie on this flight," a United States Special Forces commando says sardonically in "Executive Decision," Stuart Baird's "Die Hard in the Ozone" about a 747 in terrorist hands. This itself is a good, taut movie for red-meat action audiences, but it's not one you will be seeing on an airliner. Not ever. - Janet Maslin, NY Times