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~ James Marshall's famous quote.

President James Marshall is the main protagonist of the 1997 political action film, Air Force One. He is played by Harrison Ford, who is best known for his roles as Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise and Indiana Jones from the series of the same name.

He is a popular United States president who wouldn't negotiate with terrorists but later, he was forced to negotiate with Egor Korshunov (played by Gary Oldman) to release General Radek after Korshunov took over the president's plane, Air Force One. But when he killed Korshunov, he announced his freedom and the Russians had General Radek shot. His Vice President is Kathryn Bennett (played by Glenn Close) and his family (First Family) is Grace Marshall (Wendy Crewson) and Alice Marshall (Liesel Matthews).


The dead remember our indifference; the dead remember our silence. I came here tonight to be congratulated. But today, when I visited the Red Cross camps, overwhelmed by the flood of refugees fleeing the horror of Kazakhstan, I realized I don't deserve to be congratulated. None of us do. The truth is we acted too late. Only when our own national security was threatened did we act. Radek's regime murdered over 200,000 men, women and children and we watched it on TV. We let it happen. People were being slaughtered for over a year and we issued economic sanctions and hid behind the rhetoric of diplomacy. How dare we? The dead remembered: real peace is not just the absence of conflict, it's the presence of justice. And tonight I come to you with a pledge to change America's policy. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons, and to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.
~ James Marshall's speech in Moscow

James Marshall was an Air Force helicopter aviator who fought in the Vietnam War. He flew more helicopter rescue missions than anyone else and received a Medal of Honor for his heroics in there. He had since been elected as President of the United States of America. After a joint American-Russian raid on the Presidential Palace in Kazakhstan results in the capture and imprisonment of the dictator, General Radek, Marshall delivers a speech in Moscow where he doesn't read the speech written for him and instead improvises a speech detailing a dramatic change in foreign policy where the US refuses to negotiate with terrorists, citing that had America taken charge sooner, lives would have been saved. Only did America intervene when its own safety was jeopardized. He then impressively talks to the Russian president in Russian, later on mentioning that his mother wanted him to study French instead of Russian.

The change upsets many higher ups in his cabinet, but Marshall has the best interest of the country at heart. As President Marshall and his staff arrived in a Moscow airport, he smiles at reporters taking pictures of him. Then he went on-board Air Force One. He jokes to the pilots that the plane should fly to Barbados instead. He asks his Secret Service presidential guard Agent Gibbs where his family are. Gibbs replies that they are in a ballet and they will arriving in five minutes. Later on, he has a Budweiser while watching a football game with his daughter. His wife also kisses him during this. Gibbs, acting as a mole for a group of six Radek loyalists led by the sadistic Egor Korshunov, sneaks them onto the plane disguised as journalists.

Once in flight, Gibbs kills several Secret Service agents guarding the plane's armory, allowing Korshunov and his men to seize control of the plane. When the attackers start a fire fight, the pilots attempt to land the plane at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. However, the pilots are killed, and the terrorists take control, diverting the plane towards Kazakhstan. Secret Service agents take Marshall to an escape pod in the cargo hold, while the rest of the passengers are taken hostage by the hijackers. Believing the President has escaped, the hijackers plan to use his wife and daughter as leverage. The U.S. military locates the escape pod but finds it empty. Unbeknownst to the hijackers, President Marshall, a retired military aviator, veteran of the Vietnam War, and Medal of Honor recipient, stayed aboard the plane to rescue everybody. He contacts the White House via satellite phone, reminding Bennett not to negotiate with the terrorists, because "If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk." Marshall is ambushed by a terrorist named Boris Bazylev in the cargo deck while he is trying to get hold of the White House.

He then tells the fighter jets following Air Force One to fire on the aircraft, since the plane is built to withstand missile attacks. The fighters do so and the shock-wave pushes Boris away from Marshall, allowing the two to fight and Marshall eventually strangling Boris. The hijackers request mid-air refueling after Marshall forces a fuel dump by cutting the red, white and blue wires in the cargo hold, later securing the hostages. Marshall sends a fax to the White House, instructing the tanker to force the plane low enough for the hostages to parachute to safety.

When Korshunov discovers the deception, he forces the plane away from the refueling tanker, causing the fuel to ignite and destroy the tanker. However, Korshunov captures Marshall and the remaining advisers before they escape. With Marshall and his family held hostage, Bennett is forced to contact Russian President Petrov to endorse Radek's release. As such, she refuses to sign a sheet which is capable of overriding Radek's release under the 25th Amendment. Korshunov and his men celebrate as the event is broadcast over the plane's speakers, and Marshall escapes by using a shard of glass from an ashtray to cut through the tape binding his wrists. While Marshall's advisers deal with the remaining terrorists, Korshunov takes Grace to the plane's parachute ramp, and dumps the remaining parachutes. Marshall arrives, and the two fight. Korshunov loses his weapon, and is garroted with the parachute chord, and then thrown off the plane.

Marshall then belays his earlier request to release Radek, who is subsequently killed attempting to flee custody. Marshall directs Air Force One towards friendly airspace unaware that MiG-29s piloted by the remaining Radek loyalists are following them. Escorting U.S. F-15s counter-attack, with one sacrificing itself to intercept a missile, but the shrapnel from explosions, and machine gun rounds, destroys Air Force One's tail controls, rendering landing impossible. Marshall pilots Air Force One out toward the Caspian Sea to prevent civilian casualties, and a nearby patrolling Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130E Combat Talon, codenamed Liberty 24, is called in to rescue Marshall and the others via zip-line.

After his family and the injured Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd are evacuated, Marshall, Gibbs, and Major Caldwell remain on the plane, with time for only one to be rescued. Caldwell tells Marshall to go, but Gibbs, revealing that it was he who aided the terrorists in hijacking Air Force One, pulls a gun, kills Major Caldwell and a United States Air Force Pararescue, and attempts to save himself on the last remaining zip-line. Marshall overpowers him (having once trusted Gibbs with his life), attaches himself to the line, and unhooks it from the plane before it crashes into the water, killing Gibbs. The MC-130E crew reel in the President, and Marshall is reunited with his family on the new Air Force One.


Marshall keeps a wise, intelligent personality that allows him to preserve power and an alliance with Russia. His hard-working personality and knack for dovetailing makes him very important at times, though he doesn't always keeps it up due to his age.

He also has a soft side for his family, which Korshunov uses as his weakness when he threatens to kill Alice if he does not call the President of Russia.

Marshall also displays sarcasm, when he told his pilots that he suggested going to Barbados, though his pilots did get the joke inadvertently.


  • Kathryn, if you give a mouse a cookie... (Kathryn: He's gonna want a glass of milk.)
  • I'm counting on you, red, white and blue.
  • If this works, you get to be Postmaster General.
  • How can I do that? I can't do that!
  • I'll anything to save my family. Don't ask me for something I can't give.
  • You're being played into his hands, are you an idiot? You'd make him into a hero, the man who stopped the terrorists, and frankly, the man who'll stop me.
  • We're soldiers. You may take my life.
  • I'll do it. I'll do it, just please, leave my family alone.
  • I love you. (quietly to Grace)
  • You're not here for this. You want something. What is it?
  • Petrov used me. I just want to stop the bloodshed.
  • Stay with the Major, honey. (ordering Alice to stay)
  • Leave her alone, this is between you and me.
  • Get off my plane! (to Korshunov and then breaks his neck and throws him off the plane)
  • How far away are those MIGs? (the MIGs gain radar lock on Air Force One) Never mind.
  • I trusted you with my life! (Gibbs: So will the next president. Now give it to me!)