Air Force One is Down— review and commentary

I was watching Netflix with hubby, and I saw a British mini-series entitled “Alistair McLean’s Air Force One is Down” as an available title, so we spent a couple of evenings with it. Although this film ended up as a recommendation for me because it has Linda Hamilton (of Terminator and Beauty and the Beast fame,) I chose it because it was supposed to be based on a novel by Alistair McLean. He was a favorite writer of mine when I was in my teens and 20s, and yes, I am fully aware that I am dating myself by mentioning that.

Oh, my gosh, how wonderful were those reads. He wrote twenty something novels, several of which were the basis for films (including The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, and Breakheart Pass.) My intro to his work was actually his only sequel (Force 10 from Navarone) but it was stood alone well enough that I wanted to read more from the author.

Alas, hubby and I were disappointed by this film. The cinematography, special effects, score, and cast were all pretty good. The problems were, for the most part, in the writing. In part, plot devices that worked in novels in the 50s and 60s just do not work now. For instance, the dastardly villain has captured our hero and his two compatriots. He places the hero character in a deadly situation, and the hero’s two sidekicks are locked into a pit that rapidly fills with water. Of course, the hero manages a super human feat and the all of them survive. Nowadays, the villain would shoot the hero and his sidekicks and be done with it. This doesn’t happen just once in the two part story; it happens over and over. As hubby said, “This thing has major plot holes.” And it does.

After we finished watching the entire film (at my insistence, as hubby would have bailed during part 1) I looked up the novel. According to that scholarly resource Wikipedia, McLean did not write the novel. Instead, he sketched out some plots for a series of novels which bear his name, but other authors wrote the books. In this case, John Denis is the author of the book that the mini-series is supposed to be based upon.

So… the film is sorta interesting, but I really can’t recommend very highly.

Nebraska— the film

I’m a fan of Netflix.  As of this writing, the film Nebraska is available on the service. This comedy/drama is rather hard to classify, but I enjoyed it very much. Perhaps it speaks to my life experiences. My father was a widower for a number of years, and as the daughter who lived close by, it was often up to me to take care of his needs. And, people of his generation are just different from ours. Example: I was handed his wallet while he underwent a medical procedure; the darned thing was two inches thick. With nothing else to do while I waited, I thumbed through it. There were many scraps of paper, usually with a phone number scrawled upon each of them. He had a metal plate replica of his social security card! And, there was a “business card” of some executive from the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes. No kidding.

Okay, you are wondering when I will get around to reviewing Nebraska. Here goes: As the film opens, set in Billings, Montana, an elderly gent is walking on the emergency lane of a multilane highway. A cop pulls over and asks the gent (ably portrayed by Bruce Dern) where he is going, and he merely points ahead of his position. When asked where he came from, he points behind him. All the while, he is still walking. The next scene has his son, Dave, coming to the police station to pick up his father. His father’s destination is Nebraska. Why? Because he has a letter saying he won a million dollars in a sweepstakes, and the letter has to be returned to an address in Nebraska by a certain date. You know, the kind that really exist only to sell magazines.

The father, who seems a bit out of it, apart from his intense desire to get his million dollars, has become a thorn in his mother’s side. So, to give his mom a break, the son feigns illness to get off work, puts his dad in the car, and off to Nebraska they go. Their adventures make up the rest of the film. I’m not going into details, because I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice it to say that the son learns quite a bit about his elderly father on their journey to pick up his million dollar sweepstakes.

Nebraska gets a 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is unusual. So is this film, however. Those who have dealt with parents born during the depression will really appreciate this well acted film.