Executive Decision

on March 15, 1996 by Susan Lambert
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There are some scripts that read like movies--they practically jump off the page. Conversely, in the jammed-packed "Executive Decision," you can see the pages right behind the screen. But that doesn't diminish the enjoyment of this wham-bam, thrill-a-minute joy ride one bit, because the script behind the film is breathlessly fast, well-crafted and just pretty darn sharp. This page turner of a movie even makes it easy to ignore the glaring leaps in logic and reality that abound throughout.
   On top of that, the movie sports a top-flight cast. Kurt Russell ("Stargate") projects the perfect mix of intelligence, charm and blandness as David Grant, a government information man who accidentally lands himself in the middle of an attempt to stop a kamikaze bunch of bad Middle Easterners (the modern-day Nazi for moviemakers) who've hijacked an airplane to Washington, D.C. Steven Seagal is, well, Steven Seagal, but he is less boorish than usual, mostly because his strike-leader character is onscreen only for the first act. John Leguizamo ("To Wong Foo...") is wonderful, rising to the occasion as the next-in-command commando. Oliver Platt ("Funny Bones") perfectly plays poor Cahill, a brilliant but nervous engineer. And Halle Berry is luminous as usual, bringing star quality to her simple brave-stewardess role. "Executive Decision" is loaded, however, with offensive portrayals of maniacal Middle Easterners, most notably Nagi Hassan ("Iron Eagle's" David Suchet, who deserves better).
   The great thing about the movie is that, although it's ludicrously predictable along the lines of every "Die Hard on a [name your vehicle]," the filmmakers still manage to wring every scene for the most thrills possible. It's a Steven Seagal movie that loses Seagal after the first half-hour, leaving the cast to fight superevil without the requisite superhero. But director Stuart Baird (who edited "Demolition Man" and "The Last Boy Scout") keeps constant pressure on the pace, yet still allows for beautifully fresh moments of humor. A solid orchestration of effort and craft, this bird flies even though there is nothing to keep it up. Starring Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo and Steven Seagal. Directed by Stuart Baird. Written by Jim Thomas and John Thomas. Produced by Joel Silver. A Warner Bros. release. Action. Rated R for violence and brief language. Running time: 133 min
Tags: Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Steven Seagal, Suart Baird, Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Joel Silver, Warner Bros, Action, violence, commando, brave, portrayals, thrills
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