A shipment of nerve gas, DZ-5, a single drop of which can kill a roomful of humans, is stolen. An infamous terrorist is kidnapped while attending his daughter's wedding and turned over to the U.S. for prosecution. His men hijack a Washington, D.C.-bound 747 in order to set him free. Present in the hijacked plane is the shipment of nerve gas, which the leader of the hijackers, Nagi Hassan (David Suchet), plans to use to wipe out the entire U.S. Eastern seaboard, in an act of ultimate terrorism. That's the story driving the latest action flick from Hollywood: Executive Decision.
Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) is in charge of the mission to invade the 747 in mid-air and defuse the terrorist and nerve-gas threats. In order to accomplish this, they use an experimental aircraft developed for this very sort of application. Travis invites along David Grant (Kurt Russell), the intelligence expert on Hassan, for the joyride.
Seagal bows out of the picture during the transfer process, leaving it up to Russell to play hero. At first Russell seems to fit well into the role of the "paper-pusher thrown into the middle of action" character. That is, until he removes his tuxedo. Then he gets too comfortable in the role of an action hero, and that ruins his role in the movie I think. However, the civilian design engineer, Cahill (Oliver Platt), takes over and plays the part of the reluctant bomb-defuser excellently.
Unlike many action movies, Executive Decision pays some token attention to various details, which is the reason why it clocks in at the time it does (2:20 hours). For example, the docking sequence between the experimental aircraft and the 747, the defusing of the bomb, and the surveillance of the hijackers on the plane, are all shown in painstaking detail, while the actual termination of the terrorists happens in seconds. There's a reasonable degree of suspense maintained, and just when a particular scene starts getting boring, the action picks right up.
The timing of the release of Executive Decision is opportune: in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Israel, this should prove to be a good crowd attractor. The movie is nothing more than a good action flick, but it delivers what it promises. So check your brain at the door and lie back and enjoy the flight.