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YMMV / Executive Decision

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  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": This is a pretty decent "Die Hard" on an X movie, but everyone remembers it as the film where Steven Seagal is killed off in the first half.
  • Complete Monster: Nagi Hassan is the second-in-command of a powerful terrorist group and a radical fanatic. When the group's leader El Sayed Jaffa is captured by the US military, Hassan and his men hijack a plane and demand Jaffa be released. However it is soon revealed that Hassan himself was behind Jaffa's capture and is using this hijacking as a pretext to set off a powerful nerve gas bomb in Washington DC (with a high chance of doing damage as extensive as gassing the entire Eastern Seaboard). To prove he is serious, Hassan has a suicide bomber blow up a restaurant in London. When the US military frees Jaffa, Hassan wants to go ahead with his plan and kills one of his men for questioning this decision. When US fighter planes try to force the plane to land, Hassan kills a US Senator on board and threatens to kill a passenger every minute if the plane is not allowed to land in Washington. When Dr. David Grant and his team ruin Hassan's original plan, Hassan kills the pilots flying the plane, hoping that the plane will crash into Washington and set off the nerve gas bomb.
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: A Middle Eastern terrorist group is behind a bombing in London, and they later hijack a plane with which they plan to attack Washington D.C.. "Ouch" doesn't start to describe how much harsher this film is today.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Travis' death (and Steven Seagal being the Decoy Protagonist), in light of how bad his career as an action hero (and his penchant to play the Boring Invincible Hero) has become.
    • Dr. Grant's use of an H&K USP pistol mocked up to resemble the Mark 23, which wasn't available for civilian use at the time the film was made, became funnier when Grant's actor went on to be the first to wield an actual Mark 23 on-screen in Soldier.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Nagi Hasan is a ruthless extremist and would-be mass murderer, but he is a highly intelligent Diabolical Mastermind who seizes control of his terrorist cell by manipulating the Americans into capturing the leader, his superior, and using this to manipulate the cell into carrying out a terrorist atrocity under the guise of releasing said leader from ransom, when in reality he intends to launch an assault on the United States and slaughter millions of people regardless of whether they accede to his demands or not. He accounts for numerous variables, notices every mistake the heroes make and nearly catches them each time, immediately sees through the Senators' bullshit when he tries to "negotiate" in order to score political points, and when the heroes seemingly thwart his plans manages to nearly make their victory pyrrhic by killing the pilots.
    • he and Jaffa are even greater Magnificent Bastards in the April 1991 draft. After the hijacking and destruction of the plane, Jaffa intended to frame a certain Arab country of the crime, and then make an alliance with that same country (or perhaps one of its local enemies.)
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  • Moral Event Horizon: Hassan deciding to continue the original plan and deploy a whole lot of Deadly Gas over the Eastern Seaboard (killing everybody on the plane and Heaven only knows how many people on the ground) even after the Americans release the terrorists' leader, in order to "teach the infidels a lesson". If that doesn't cross it, his immediate retaliation against another member of the terrorist crew that points out that the mission has been accomplished and there's no need to perform that action (which is to toss him against the plane's staircase and machine-gun him dead) definitely does.
  • Tear Jerker: Travis's death.
    • Sure that one flight attendant was gushing about her recent wedding a little too much. She still didn't deserve to be so unceremoniously murdered that way, and left on the floor.
    • The murder of the pilot and co-pilot near the end was fueled by childish callousness.
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  • Unintentional Period Piece: The title comes from the fact that the government loses contact with the special forces after they board the plane and it becomes an "executive decision", i.e. a decision from the President, whether or not to shoot the plane down to prevent it. The officials on the ground make a huge deal about this, ruminate about the moral and political ramifications of such an act and think it will ruin the administration in the eyes of the public to do so, especially without proof that a bomb is on board, even though the public knows that the flight has been hijacked. The fighter planes even try to get the plane to turn around with them as escort. In the aftermath of 9/11 however, it has become official and highly publicised US policy that a plane is liable to be shot out of the sky if it is even suspected of being hijacked by suicide bombers, never mind suicide bombers who have a weapon of mass destruction on board - if such an incident happened in Real Life today, the plane may have been shot down pretty much immediately.
  • Values Resonance: Sadly, after 9/11 and the rise of groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, a film like this which was considered complete fantasy when it was released has become a potentially plausible scenario that could really happen.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Seriously... David freaking Suchet as a Middle Eastern terrorist...

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