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Executive Decision is a 1996 American action film directed by Stuart Baird in his directorial debut. The film stars Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Joe Morton, David Suchet, and B.D. Wong. It depicts the rescue of an airliner hijacked by terrorists, by a small team placed on the plane in mid-flight. The film was released in the United States on March 15, 1996, and grossed $122 million against a $55 million budget.
Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis leads an unsuccessful Special Forces black ops raid on a Chechen mafia safe house in Trieste, Italy, to recover a stolen Soviet nerve agent, DZ-5. Three months later, Oceanic Airlines Flight 343, a Boeing 747-200, leaves Athens bound for Washington, D.C., with over 400 passengers aboard including Nagi Hassan, lieutenant of the imprisoned terrorist leader El Sayed Jaffa. Hassan and his men hijack the flight, demanding Jaffa s release. Meanwhile, just moments before the hijacking, a suicide bomber working for Jaffa destroys a London Marriott hotel restaurant.
Dr. David Grant, the U.S. Army intelligence consultant behind the botched raid, is summoned to a meeting at the Pentagon to plan an operation to retake the plane. Grant doubts Hassan s demands, suspecting he engineered Jaffa s capture, and intends to use the 747 to detonate a bomb loaded with the DZ-5 in U.S. airspace. The Pentagon authorizes a mid-air insertion of Travis special operations team onto the hijacked airliner using the experimental Remora F117x aircraft. Grant and DARPA engineer Dennis Cahill reluctantly join the mission.
The Remora intercepts and docks with the airliner. Grant, Cahill, and team members Cappy, Baker, Louie and Rat successfully board but Cappy is injured after a fall. Severe turbulence strains the docking tunnel. Travis sacrifices himself by closing the 747 s hatch before it decompresses. The Remora is destroyed along with the team s communications equipment, leaving the Pentagon unaware of their survival. They conduct a covert search for the bomb, hoping to neutralize it and storm the cabin. Grant accidentally reveals who he is to flight attendant Jean, but successfully recruits her to assist their search, despite Hassan s suspicions.
The team locates the bomb and Cappy, despite his injuries, guides Cahill in disarming it until they discover its arming device has an additional, remote-controlled trigger. Jaffa, released by U.S officials in an attempt to resolve the situation, calls Hassan from a private jet to tell him he is on his way to Algeria, but Hassan abruptly ends the call. Grant and the others realize Hassan s men are unaware of the bomb and Hassan s true intentions, after he kills one of them for rebuking him. He also inadvertently reveals that one of the passengers is a sleeper agent and the trigger-man for the bomb.
The Pentagon dispatches U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats to shoot down the 747, prompting Hassan to execute U.S. Senator Mavros (a passenger) as a warning. Baker uses Morse code via the 747 s taillights to signal the fighters that the team made it aboard, requesting an extra ten minutes to neutralize the bomb and retake the 747, despite already crossing into U.S. airspace. Jean spots a man with an electronic device and informs Grant, who enters the passenger cabin to take the suspected individual by surprise, only to find he is merely a diamond thief. Grant spots the real sleeper, Demou, and fights him for the detonator. Hassan attempts to shoot Grant, but is himself shot by an on-board air marshal.
The commandos storm the cabin as a firefight ensues. Grant struggles to wrestle the detonator from Demou s grip while Baker and Rat gun-down several terrorists. Louie assists Grant by fatally shooting Demou and eliminating the remaining terrorists. Demou, however, manages to arm the bomb before dying, and stray bullets from a terrorist s weapon pierce a window causing explosive decompression. The bomb is disarmed just in time by Cappy and Cahill as the 747 stabilizes. Hassan kills the pilots and damages the controls, before being shot and killed by Rat.
Despite his limited flying experience and poor flying technique, Grant takes control of the 747 and attempts a landing but misses the approach to Dulles International Airport. Grant recognizes the area surrounding his training airfield, Frederick Field, and attempts to land the 747 there. With Jean s assistance, Grant successfully lands the airliner and the passengers are safely evacuated. Grant is saluted by Baker, Louie, Rat and Cappy for his leadership before being summoned to the Pentagon.
- Kurt Russell as Dr. David Grant, a consultant for US Army Intelligence.
- Steven Seagal as Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis, US Army Special Forces.
- Halle Berry as Jean, Flight Attendant
- John Leguizamo as Captain Carlos Rat Lopez, US Army Special Forces.
- David Suchet as Nagi Hassan / Al-Tar, Co-chief of the Extremist Organization
- Oliver Platt as Dennis Cahill, Aeronautic Engineer
- Joe Morton as First Sergeant Campbell Cappy Matheny, US Army Special Forces.
- BD Wong as Staff Sergeant Louie Jung, US Army Special Forces.
- Len Cariou as Secretary of Defense Charles White
- Whip Hubley as Sergeant 1st Class Michael Baker, US Army Special Forces.
- Andreas Katsulas as Abu El-Sayed Jaffa, Chief of the Extremist Organization
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Allison
- Marla Maples as Nancy
- J. T. Walsh as Senator Jason Mavros
- Nicholas Pryor as Secretary of State Jack Douglas
- Ingo Neuhaus as Doc
- Todd Jefferies as Collins
- Ilia Volok as Chechen Thug
- Robert Apisa as Jean-Paul Demou, sleeper terrorist and also a bomb triggerman
- Juan Fernandez as London Bomber
- Magdalene St. Michaels as London Hostess (Credited as Jayne Walters)
- William James Jones as Catman
- Charles Hallahan as General Sarlow, US Army
- Richard Riehle as Air Marshal George Edwards
- Eugene Roche as Admiral Lewis
- Ken Jenkins as General Wood
- Jay Tavare as Nabill
- Shaun Toub as Terrorist
- Christopher Maher as Terrorist
- Ray Baker as 747 Pilot
- Michael Milhoan as 747 First Officer
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 63% based on reviews from 41 critics, with an average rating of 6.30/10. The site s consensus states: Executive Decision adheres entertainingly to classic action thriller formula, proving a genre outing doesn t need to win points for originality to be solidly effective. On Metacritic the film has an approval rating of 62 out of 100, based on reviews from 20 critics. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A− on an A+ to F scale.
Leonard Maltin called it a tense, inventive thriller which needed more editing. Leonard Klady of Variety wrote, The picture s logic may be a bit fast and loose, but its action-and-excitement quotient is top-notch. Roger Ebert rated it 3 out of 4 stars, calling it a gloriously goofy mess of a movie with several plot holes (e.g. smuggling a toxin into the country would likely be easier and just as effective as hijacking). Ebert praised the first-act plot twist of killing off the character played by Seagal, then a major Hollywood star: I perked right up .
Halle Berry earned a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Adventure/Drama for her performance in the film in 1997.
Steven Seagal earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance in the film but lost to Marlon Brando for The Island of Dr. Moreau.
The European theatrical version of the film was censored by the studio in order to remove any reference to Islam (some shots have been cut or modified, some dialogue lines changed). While the American DVD was not censored, the censored version was used worldwide as the source for the blu-ray HD master. This transfer was also used on the Netflix release in 2021, however the subtitles still reference Islam.
|Plot||When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a midair boarding operation.|
|Awards||Awards, 2 wins & 2 nominations|
|Writers||Jim Thomas, John Thomas|
|Stars||Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo|
|Produced by||Karyn Fields,Spencer Franklin,Steve Perry,Joel Silver,Jim Thomas,John Thomas|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography by||Alex Thomson|
|Film Editing by||Stuart Baird,Derek Brechin,Dallas Puett,Kevin Stitt,Frank J. Urioste|
|Casting By||Cathy Sandrich Gelfond,Amanda Mackey|
|Production Design by||Terence Marsh|
|Art Direction by||William Cruse|
|Set Decoration by||Marvin March|
|Costume Design by||Louise Frogley|
|Makeup Department||Joseph Neeko Abriol,Audrey L. Anzures,Kathryn Blondell,Mary Burton,Donna Battersby Greene,Romaine Greene,Melanie Hughes,Dennis Liddiard,Robert Norin,John Rizzo,Daniel C. Striepeke,Selina Jayne|
|Production Management||Debbi Bossi,Paul Moen|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Scottie Gissel,Craig Hosking,Steve Perry,Craig A. Pinckes,Lisa C. Satriano,Denis L. Stewart,Joel Chernoff|
|Art Department||Daril Alder,Rick Chavez,Sara Gardner-Gail,Randy Gunter,John Hinkle,Jack Johnson,Roger L. King,Edward F. LaLone,Ernest H. Lauterio,Wayne Lindholm,Sacha Milito,Sebastian Milito,Michael Papac,Robert R. Richardson,Bill Taliaferro,Robert Woodruff,Michael W. Chase,Cary Conway,John Ferrari,Gustavo R. Ferreyra,Robert Misetich,David J. Negron Jr.|
|Sound Department||Rick Alexander,Antonio Betancourt,Scott Burrow,David E. Campbell,William C. Carruth,David B. Cohn,Virginia Cook-McGowan,Samuel C. Crutcher,John P. Fasal,Les Fresholtz,Eric Gotthelf,Jerelyn J. Harding,Grover B. Helsley,Robert G. Henderson,Denise Horta,David L. Horton Jr.,David M. Horton,Bill King,Billy King,Bob King,Clark King,Richard LeGrand Jr.,William L. Manger,Dean G. Manly,Courtenay Marvin,Bob O Brien,Thomas J. O Connell,John Phillips,Troy Porter,John T. Reitz,Gregg Rudloff,Scott Shadden,Rodney Sharpp,James Simcik,Richard Stewart,Scott A. Tinsley,Corinne Villa,Brooke Henderson Ward,Marshall Winn,Greg Dillon,Adam Johnston|
|Special Effects by||John P. Cazin,Albert Delgado,Kim Derry,Bruce Allan Donnellan,Andy Evans,Sam P. La Fata,Grant McCune,Robert L. Olmstead,Ken Pepiot,Gintar Repecka,Frank Schepler,Daniel Sudick,Tony Tortolano,Rick Weed,Jack Edjourian,Tad Krzanowski,Donn Markel|
|Visual Effects by||Mimi Abers,Art Adams,Carol Ashley,Richard Chuang,Ivan A. Craig,Peter Donen,Miller Drake,Paddy Eason,Jim Finn,David Fuhrer,Alex Funke,Gil Gagnon,Mitzi Gallagher,Joe Gareri,Henry Gonzales,Pete Hanson,David R. Hardberger,Christer Hokanson,Les Hunter,Cynthia Hyland,Jennifer Neysa Jew,Scott Kaye,Shane D. Kelly,Anne Putnam Kolbe,Tad Krzanowski,Brad Kuehn,John Lafauce,Jennifer Law-Stump,Don Lee,Gregory D. Liegey,Chris Loudon,Annie Mahlik,Jeff Matakovich,Grant McCune,Dennis Michelson,Derrick Mitchell,Tony Noel,Alison O Brien,Cristin Pescosolido,Patrick Phillips,Theresa Ellis Rygiel,Olivier Sarda,Asim Sehic,Ira Shain,Monty Shook,William Shourt,Janek Sirrs,Thomas J. Smith,David Sosalla,Tom Southwell,Smokey Stover,David Stump,Peter Alun Thomas,Barry Watkins,Jeff Wells,Tim Wellspring,Robert Wilcox,Michael Yost,Alan Barnett,Travis Baumann,Bethany Berndt-Shackelford,Phil Brennan,Scott Coulter,Melissa Davies,Ivan DeWolf,Ted Fay,Rudy Hassen,Jeff Heusser,Oliver James,Karen Klein,Toan-Vinh Le,Mark Tait Lewis,David Lingenfelser,Peter Loop II,Bob Lyss,Jerry Miscevich,Steve R. Moore,Luc G. Nicknair,Ron D. Peake,Kevin Phelan,Robin Saxen,Jennifer Lee Scheer,Stephen Sobisky,Ronnie E. Williams Jr.,Edson Williams,Eric Withee|
|Stunts||Pete Antico,Maryellen Aviano,Bobby Bass,Chino Binamo,Paul Borne,Joe Bucaro III,John Casino,Chris Cenatiempo,John Cenatiempo,Kerrie Cullen,Max Daniels,Eddy Donno,Craig Dunn,Kiante Elam,Ousaun Elam,Kenny Endoso,Tony Epper,Nancy Goeppinger,Tom Harper,Billy Hank Hooker,Buddy Joe Hooker,Viktor Ivanov,Henry Kingi Jr.,Henry Kingi,Will Leong,Danny Lopez,Cole McLarty,Gary McLarty,John Meier,Larissa Michieli,Jimmy Nickerson,Alan Oliney,Steve Picerni,Peewee Piemonte,Don Pulford,Danny Rogers,Jimmy Romano,Pat Romano,John Rottger,Michael Runyard,Ron Stein,P.J. Wagner,Skip Ward,Scott Wilder,David Zellitti,Dick Ziker,Joe Bucaro III,John Casino,K. Lee Johnson,Pat Romano,Birgit K. Schier,Matthew Taylor,Clark Tucker|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Larry J. Aube,Nico Bally,Keith Banks,David E. Baron,Chuck Bemis,Josh Bleibtreu,Mark Boylee Boyle,Michael Brennan,Don Burgess,Patrick Capone,Michael Caracciolo,John T. Connor,Michael J. Coo,Glenn Corbett,Tom Doherty,Steven J. Eliopoulos,Peter Farber,Jon Baronn Farmer,Michael A. FauntLeRoy,William E. Fitch,Ian Fox,Anthony Gaudioz,Christopher Dunn George,Ron Goodman,Michael Green,David R. Hardberger,Jose Flecha Hernandez,Douglas S. Holgate,Frank M. Holgate,Michael Klimchak,Craig Kohtala,Leslie J. Kovacs,Gregory Lundsgaard,Michael Martinez,Frank Masi,John McGowan,Michael McGowan,David Norris,George Richmond,Charles Saldana,Donald E. Thorin Jr.,Wayne Tidwell,Jeff Togno,Michael T. Travers,James Wirosko,James Barker,Billy Craft,Chris Funk,Jason Garcia,Brett Mabry,Mark Mele,Raphy Molinary,Angel Pastrana,Geronimo Perez,Kenny Schneider,Monte Swann|
|Casting Department||Shannon K. Dunn,Elizabeth Lang,Zoraida Sanjurjo López|
|Costume and Wardrobe Department||Annette Andreozzi,Michael Butler,Victoria DeKay,Barry Francis Delaney,Richard Schoen,Kendall Errair|
|Editorial Department||Bobby Bell,Neil Greenberg,John Haggar,Mo Henry,Scott Janush,Bob Kaiser,David Mann,William J. Meshover,Jud Nealon,Bob Putynkowski,Marianne Urioste,Ben Williams,Brandon K. Hogan,Patrick Paul Mullane|
|Location Management||Stuart Raven Barter,Ann Lynch,Christian McWilliams,F. Stanley Pearse Jr.|
|Music Department||Bruce Botnick,Alexander Courage,Darrell Hall,Kenneth Hall,Nick Vidar,John Beal,Tom Brown,Daniel Gold,Jerry Goldsmith,Zigmund Gron,Jim Hoffman,Malcolm McNab,Rupert Nadeau,Emil Richards,James Thatcher|
|Script and Continuity Department||Jeanne Byrd,Kerry Lyn McKissick|
|Transportation Department||Victor Anderson,Vern Bautenhahn,Ronald Brown,David Diaz,Gary Preece,Frank Reinhard,Bill Wolff,Fred Culbertson,Manny DeMello,Stephen R. Hudis,Thomas O Donnell|
|Additional Crew||Maryellen Aviano,Sayed Badreya,Brad Blondheim,Dan Cloyd,Jennifer Corey,Glenn Cote,Jack Crain,Thomas A. Davila,Brian C. Davis,Mark S. DeRosa,Kevin Eldridge,Richard Greenberg,Rhonda C. Gunner,John Hardy,Patti Hawn,Suzanne Heasley,Gregory D. Hemstreet,Fabrice Henssens,Richard E. Hollander,Oliver Hudson,Kent Hughes,William C. Jones,Denny Logan,Amy Marks,Lockheed Martin,Thomas McCollum,Dentis McDaniel,Gregory L. McMurry,Jennifer Meyer,Chris Ovitz,Jane E. Pepiot,Jim Petti,Debby Porter,Amy Quinn,Willie Radcliff,Shannon Reid,Bruce Ross,Boston Russell,Schulter,Tiffany Scuitto,Jeff Senour,Karen Shaw,Leslie E. Smith,Dale Snodgrass,Nina Spegel,John Stalberg Jr.,Philip M. Strub,Eric Sundahl,Paul Taglianetti,Matthew Warren,John C. Wash,Doug Burch,Bill Daly,Cheryl Gilbert,Peter Loop II,Garth McLean,David Romano,Rick Sander,Gary Shrout|
|Thanks||Mark Maine,John C. Stennis|
|Genres||Action, Adventure, Thriller|
|Companies||Warner Bros., Silver Pictures|
|Keywords||stealth plane,bomb,mission,lockheed f 117 nighthawk,f 14 tomcat|