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Air Force One
Album Cover Art
1997 Varèse
1998 Randy Newman Bootleg
Album 2 Cover Art
1999 Bootleg (Sample Cover)
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Additional Music Composed by:
Joel McNeely

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

Rejected Score by:
Randy Newman
Labels Icon
Varèse Sarabande
(July 11th, 1997)

Newman Bootleg

Complete Score Bootleg
Availability Icon
The 1997 Varèse Sarabande album is a regular U.S. release. The release of the Randy Newman material shortly thereafter was originally done in promotional form, but bootlegs quickly resulted. The complete recordings of the Goldsmith/McNeely score only exist in bootleg form, and have circulated the secondary market since 1999.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you enjoy Jerry Goldsmith's stock 1990's action style, no matter how derivative and predictable.

Avoid it... on the commercial album if you expect any of Joel McNeely's surprisingly good material or the majority of the Russian motifs heard in the film. Also avoid Randy Newman's highly overrated rejected score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 7/28/97, REVISED 5/20/07
Air Force One: (Jerry Goldsmith/Joel McNeely/Randy Newman) There was a period in Hollywood when depictions of the President of the United States on the big screen showed men younger and skilled with weaponry, and perhaps the most ridiculous height of these fantasies came with Wolfgang Peterson's shamelessly patriotic Air Force One in 1997. The summer blockbuster gave audiences Harrison Ford as the leader of the free world, Glenn Close as his vice president, and Gary Oldman as the sinister Russian rebel who hijacks Air Force One on a return trip from Moscow. The plot is relatively simple (the plane itself receives it's due share of glory) and the film cruised to lofty earnings. Like many intentionally over-the-top action scenarios, Air Force One requires the suspension of logical thought from start to finish, and in an effort to accomplish some semblance of believability, a dead serious action score is mandatory. Unfortunately for the director, his employment of composer Randy Newman for the assignment was a woeful mistake. Newman was indeed revered for his ability to capture the essence of "Americana" in his scores, from The Natural and Avalon through Pleasantville and beyond. But his reputation had been built and maintained in the realm of his children's film scoring, with the success of Toy Story and Newman's plethora of quirky and jazzy songs defining his career. It should have come as no surprise to Peterson that Newman would write a somewhat silly, mocking score for Air Force One; he had never tackled an action film of this blockbuster size before, and he obviously looked at the genre with a sense of amusement rather than one of serious intent. Newman's score would still manage to offer a significant amount of viable action material in parts, using the logical choices of brass and snare to lead his fully orchestral ensemble (along with a few lightly synthesized effects). But this action material would fall into the trap of comedy action writing, attempting to move from motif to motif, rhythm to rhythm far too quickly for the accompanying scene to receive the sense of gravity it required.

Randy Newman's action cues for Air Force One would make for an interesting listen apart from the film, and they have been highly praised through the years. Composer Hans Zimmer once indicated that he considered these cues superior to any he had written at the time. Several distinct sequences would be seemingly reprised by Basil Poledouris in his forthcoming score for Starship Troopers. Critics awarded significant praise to Newman's score when it was leaked almost immediately as a promo CD to the collecting community. But there are significant weaknesses in Newman's score outside of a handful of the more consistent action cues. His themes, simply put, are atrocious for the genre. His concoction for the president includes a rollicking rhythm and jovial fanfare that places the film just one step away from your local carnival. Used in full during the early motorcade and hostage-freeing scenes, this theme would have been horrifyingly trivial in its futile attempts to infuse any sense of sincerity into the office of the president or his plane. In both structure and frivolous character, the theme mirrors the identity of David Newman's Galaxy Quest to a substantial degree. Equally dumb in a mock fashion is Randy Newman's theme for the Russians and their general, nearing the realm of parody in its prancing movements. His theme for the first family is adequate, though inconsequential. On the whole, his score is embarrassingly inappropriate in tone, despite the quality of a few individual action cues. Newman recorded an hour of material for the film before getting cut off by Peterson, who, with the release date of the film fast approaching, must have been experiencing a serious case of red-ass upon hearing Newman's recordings. There is no indication that Newman recorded music for either the opening credits or the final fifteen minutes of the film (and end credits). With only twelve days in which to record a replacement score, action veteran Jerry Goldsmith would make an attempt to save Peterson's film. Knowing that he couldn't accomplish the task alone, Goldsmith initially asked his son, Joel, to assist him in providing some of the music. Being unavailable, Goldsmith turned to rising composer Joel McNeely for assistance, and received superior results.

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Average: 3.63 Stars
***** 1,032 5 Stars
**** 1,371 4 Stars
*** 1,087 3 Stars
** 418 2 Stars
* 196 1 Stars
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Donald Trump ♥ Jerry Goldsmith
Ken Kirchner - July 21, 2016, at 7:28 p.m.
1 comment  (639 views)
A Highly Underrated Score
Rebecca - June 28, 2011, at 3:33 p.m.
1 comment  (1727 views)
Radek's Death.mp3   Expand >>
Quentin - August 16, 2007, at 11:31 a.m.
3 comments  (5921 views)
Newest: November 27, 2007, at 11:10 a.m. by
what is the name of the song   Expand >>
Brian - April 26, 2005, at 8:02 p.m.
3 comments  (10087 views)
Newest: December 27, 2005, at 9:40 a.m. by
Lord Tau
anyone have the complete score???   Expand >>
chris barry - March 10, 2005, at 11:22 p.m.
3 comments  (5213 views)
Newest: November 27, 2007, at 8:38 a.m. by
The Complete Score Is Awesome   Expand >>
Trent - March 19, 2004, at 2:36 p.m.
4 comments  (8352 views)
Newest: March 12, 2007, at 3:46 p.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Varèse Sarabande Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 35:40
• 1. The Parachutes (5:14)
• 2. The Motorcade (2:40)
• 3. Empty Rooms (4:02)
• 4. The Hijacking (7:30)
• 5. No Security (2:59)
• 6. Free Flight (4:41)
• 7. Escape from Air Force One (5:25)
• 8. Welcome Aboard, Sir (2:06)
Randy Newman Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 59:29
Complete Goldsmith/McNeely Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 102:14

Notes Icon
None of the albums' inserts include any extra information about the film or scores.
Copyright © 1997-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Air Force One are Copyright © 1997, Varèse Sarabande, Newman Bootleg, Complete Score Bootleg and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/28/97 and last updated 5/20/07.
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