The ruler of the free world is rarely liked by everyone. Even if a majority of citizens voted to elect the President, that majority could be a mere 51%, meaning that almost half of the constituents don’t agree with the choice. Furthermore, because the President is the representative of the United States as a whole, this means other countries in the world won’t like him, just because he stands for a country they have deemed as an antagonist. As such, being President of the United States can be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. It’s not that they work in hazardous conditions, but rather that their choices and decisions could cause their opponents to take action against them, even incurring violence upon the position of POTUS. This week’s two films examine some fictional attacks against the President.
Air Force One
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours
Even though flying can be one of the safest and most expedient forms of travel, certain risks come with taking to the skies. Because of the speed and altitude of flight, if something goes wrong, it can be disastrous. But the simple fact of the matter is that, to travel across the world quickly, you need to fly. Since the President needs to visit many global locations, it just makes sense to have a plane that can do this. Enter Air Force One. While there are usually fighter-jet escorts for this customized jumbo jet, they can only take out threats from the outside. One of the risks of flight is that of hijackers, and Air Force One is no different. In fact, it probably has a greater risk, which is why the aerial escorts and Secret Service accompany the President when he flies to other countries. Still, it makes for an exciting movie if it should happen.
President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is on a return trip with his family from Moscow after giving a speech at a diplomatic dinner that made him the target of many formerly Soviet terrorist groups. As such, a group which supports a recently-deposed Kazak dictator have made their way onto Air Force One and have successfully hijacked it, changing its course towards Kazakhstan. What the terrorists don’t realize is that President Marshall has a military background, and won’t make it easy for them to have their demands met. While the Secret Service thought they got the President to safety through an escape pod, he remained on board, sending communication out to the Situation Room in Washington D.C. to help them make decisions about his fate. The lynchpin in thwarting the terrorists turns out to be finding the mole in the Secret Service who let the terrorists on the plane in the first place.
Olympus Has Fallen
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours
While Air Force One is a prime target for the President while he’s in the air, the White House is the prime target when he’s on the ground. In fact, since most of Washington D.C. is critical to the United States government, it is highly guarded and is quickly protected should a threat arise. Especially after the attacks on September 11th, we know how vulnerable we can be. This means any attacks on the President while he’s in Washington D.C. would have to be incredibly coordinated to be successful. This is why assaults on the White House were so popular in 2013: the logistics needed to pull this attack off are great fodder for action films. As such, both White House Down (2013) and Olympus Has Fallen (2013) created fictional scenarios where the President was attacked on his home turf: the White House.
While President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is holding a meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister (Keong Sim), some North Korean terrorists launch an attack on Washington D.C., with their primary target being the White House. To keep the important political figures safe, the President and Prime Minister, as well as the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all retreat to a bunker buried deep below the Presidential residence. Unfortunately, this means the three leaders of the United States who hold the activation codes to a nuclear fail-safe are trapped underground. To make things worse, a mole in the Secret Service is working on extracting the codes from these individuals in order to give North Korea more leverage for the removal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula. Their only hope is a retired Secret Service agent who is making his way to the bunker.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Presidents in peril