- Ending Fatigue: Just when you thought the film was gonna end after Korshunov and Radek die, MiGs loyal to Radek launch to shoot down the plane only to be stopped by friendly F-15 Eagles. Then, it turns out the plane is almost out of fuel and thus unable to land. Marshall pilots the plane to the Caspian Sea and the USAF sends in an MC-130 to evac the president and everyone else via zip-line, but then Gibbs tries one last attempt to kill him, but fails to do so as the plane crashes, taking him with it. The film finally ends for real afterwards.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: William H. Macy makes Major Caldwell a very likeable character, causing many viewers to feel upset when he gets killed off.
- The Special Forces team that captures Radek thanks to their sheer badassery.
- Harsher in Hindsight: A movie involving Harrison Ford and an airplane is this since he was in a plane crash in March 2015.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Just Here for Godzilla: See President Harrison Ford kick ass! Unless you're amused or stirred by Eagleland Patriotic Fervour, that's the appeal of the movie.
- Memetic Mutation: "Get off my plane" was an early popular meme on YTMND.
- Moral Event Horizon: Korshunov crossed it when he murdered a innocent woman begging for her life.
- Nightmare Fuel: Imagine being any one of those hostages sent tumbling out of the aircraft without a parachute when one of the terrorists blows the door to the rear ramp open. The President himself just barely avoids the same fate, all while the tanker jet explodes just a few hundred feet above, nearly taking his own aircraft with it.
- And of course there's the death of Marshall's security adviser and press secretary; the latter is especially disturbing as we are forced to watch her plead for her life right up to the fatal shot.
- One-Scene Wonder: The American Special Forces operators seen in the film's opening scene. They are only in the movie for a few minutes (to capture Radek), but they are absolute badasses during their limited screen time.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Ivan (Gary Oldman) tells the First Lady to "SHUT UP!", he sounds more South London than Russian.
- Special Effects Failure: The crash of the eponymous aircraft. The 1997 CGI looks like something out of a video game from that same year. Which is too bad because the effects so far had been fine against the night background, and only become obvious when the sun rose in the movie.
- Strawman Has a Point: Although the movie makes it crystal clear who we should be rooting for, not everything Korshunov says is easy to argue with. In particular, that the President's job involves ordering the deaths of others, and that he only keeps his hands relatively clean (compared to Korshunov) by delegating the act itself to others. Of course, the whole plot of the film centers on the President getting hands-on with this against Korshunov's men, in order to save his family and his staffers.
- The Secretary of Defence. His willingness to invoke the 25th Amendment as damage control (with no apparent personal gain in it for himself) is actually perfectly reasonable, as setting the precedent that "yes, the US does negotiate with terrorists after all" would have had disastrous consequences. Not to mention that a majority of the cabinet agreed with him on this. Of course, they get lucky and everything works out in the end so the scope of this Sadistic Choice is never realized.
- Tear Jerker: Most notably when the President is given a Sadistic Choice between the life of an innocent woman and his chance of saving everyone else. Ivan turns on the intercom so everyone on the plane can hear her plead for her life, right up until he shoots her, and we see the other hostages either close to breaking down or openly sobbing.
- Unintentionally Sympathetic: Some viewers feel at least a little sympathy for Radek being released from prison only to end up desperately fleeing for his life while being machine gunned by faceless guards. The fact that we don't actually see what his crimes are helps it (though it is mentioned at the beginning that the President had been to the Red Cross camps and seen the thousands hurt under his rule).
- It's stated during the speech that Radek's regime murdered "over one hundred thousand men, women and children." Of course, Korshunov's sheer brutality is shown up close and personal, so it's easy to forget Radek is actually guilty of much worse. He simply orders it all from behind a desk, making him arguably the true parallel to Marshall.
- What an Idiot!:
- The villains in general. What exactly did they plan to do if their plan succeeded? Retribution against them and any nation even suspected of helping them would have been dire.
- Terrorist Sergei apparently doesn't know what explosive decompression is. To get through a locked door he jams a fire extinguisher in the handle and shoots it. On a plane. This results in at least five people (including a restrained terrorist) getting sucked out of the plane (although we see three people have chutes safely opened). And the President almost fell out. Unfortunately, Sergei isn't one of them. This also leads to the explosion of the tanker plane that was refueling Air Force One at the time, and could easily have killed EVERYONE if not for the pilot's quick thinking.
- Also Agent Gibbs. Does he really think he is going to be guarding any more presidents even if he didn't leave the president behind on a doomed plane?
- Up to this point, no one else, besides Marshall and the Major, knew that he was the mole. He is a trusted Secret Service agent who fought against the terrorists so he could have claimed the Major shot Marshall, he shot the Major and escaped afterward.
- Still seems unlikely anyone would believe that fully, considering how paranoid everyone would be afterwards and any investigation would focus on probable Secret Service traitors not an Air Force major.The Secret Service ultimately is responsible for safety and they would most likely have had a traitor.
- By this point, whatever the original plan had been had long since flown Off the Rails and he was more concerned with surviving today than he was in covering for himself tomorrow. He needs to be alive to worry about being found out or not.
- Which begs the question - why did he volunteer to stay ("we stay with the president, sir!") instead of parachuting when he had the chance?
- We have no clear information about what prompted him to turn traitor, and keep in mind that at that point the plane would have retained access to parachutes and remained in working order; staying behind would have given Gibbs more opportunities to keep an eye on Marshall's plans, maybe tip the hijackers off if he got a chance to do so, and he could have still theoretically evacuated whenever he chose.
YMMV / Air Force One