Executive Decision is a 2004 American movie directed by and starring Robert Ramsey. It stars Kurt Russell, Julia Stiles, Edward Burns, and Forest Whitaker. It’s about an Air Force major who risks everything he stands for in order to save innocent civilians during the Israeli ground invasion of Iraq. The plane he crashes is almost completely destroyed, forcing him to survive and go on the run with a rag-tag group of other survivors. Although it might seem like a far-fetched plot, Executive Decision provides a refreshingly realistic look at what military service personnel go through, as well as the risks they endure in the line of duty.
The plot revolves around an Air Force major named Kurt Russell, who crash-lands his plane into the middle of an anti-American terrorist attack on an airport. Although the plane manages to survive the crash, the pilot who was flying the plane at the time becomes stranded and is presumed dead. Thirty-nine people on board the aircraft are also killed, along with the terrorists. With the death toll rising, the government takes control of the airport and starts to question whether or not the plane was purposefully crashed. Once the reason is found, they are determined to find out what really happened to the plane, as well as why it was hijacked in the first place. In the meantime, a newly promoted senior Air Force officer, Kurt Russell, makes an unexpected and daring escape from his base and attempts to rescue those on board the plane.
The plot quickly revolves around Kurt Russell’s search for the passengers of the doomed plane. Initially, it appears as though he is trying to locate information on the whereabouts of the actual hijacker, but soon he learns that he must escape the airport in order to get there in time to save the rest of his team. Thus, he boards a small, fiberglass, private plane owned by a wealthy family with the sole purpose of finding the plane’s manifest and getting inside the plane. However, this assignment proves more difficult than originally anticipated and Russell ultimately flees from the plane in an RV and boards a plane using his own plane.
Now, Kurt Russell is forced to find a way to bring the plane down, since only explosives can do so. Fortunately, he is aided by two other escapees who happen to be two Air Force pilots and an airplane technician. The four men devise a plan in order to blow up the plane using several bombs planted strategically on the ground (since they are powered by dynamite). But a mysterious benefactor shows up and prevents the explosion from taking place. Meanwhile, Russell’s quest to find out just what the benefactor knows turns out to be more important than ever, as he uncovers evidence that could implicate the terrorists behind the attempted bombing of the airliner.
Although Russell is unable to directly connect the two events, the circumstantial evidence he uncovers about the terrorists, especially their leader, proves vital to the success of his upcoming mission. As he unravels the truth, Russell realises that the plane explosion was staged and that the plane had actually been sent from Pakistan to New York using a bomb that exploded on the runway. Once he realises that the attack was staged, he realises that he must find out who ordered the bombing and stop the terrorist group from carrying out such acts of terror. But while he and his team are able to foil the terrorists’ plans, they find that they are not able to stop the executives themselves…
In the conclusion of the film, the movie takes its time to introduce us to Russell’s new friend Joe Morton, who is an agent for the FBI. Before he is assigned to the case, however, he informs Russell that he has some information about the executives involved which he needs Russell to find out. Once Russell goes to meet him in person, he realises that Joe is actually a much more serious and experienced investigator than he first assumed. When Joe gets his own unit, Russell realises that he has a number of months until the deadline for the executives to surrender their company’s assets if they are found guilty – meaning that the only way to obtain the real facts about what happened is to bust them red handed… Once they do, though, Russell realises that he is in way over his head.
One of the most memorable scenes from the film comes when Russell finally finds out that the bomb plot was a set up. Instead of finding out about the bomb plot from the flight attendant, he finds out that the FBI has been looking into the explosion and the plane crash as well and have been interviewing people on board the hijacked plane. As it turns out, the bomb plot was staged by a terrorist organisation in an effort to bring America to war. With the help of the other passengers, including Joanne Simpson (Sigourney Weaver), Joe Morton manages to blow the entire operation; even though Joanne and other escape the plane. Once America reels from the shock, though, the FBI steps up its investigations, which brings Joanne and the other passengers together once again.
Executive Decision is one of those rare films that manages to combine plot and actual intelligence in a manner that is genuinely funny. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feature any real twists, Executive Decision manages to keep its viewers constantly interested throughout. Even when the events that unfold aren’t entirely predictable, the film’s pacing never falters nor does its overall production value. Instead, the movie remains consistently entertaining throughout – providing exactly the type of laughter that makes for a great comedy classic. And in amongst all the laughs, there’s also a strong message which suggests that people shouldn’t blindly trust those at the top, no matter how high they climb up the corporate ladder.