Ty Burr
August 09, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

We gave it a B+

While the tragedy of TWA Flight 800 makes this suspense film about a hijacked airliner more painful to watch on video than it was in theaters, it’s a thankfully unexploitative, rock-solid piece of work. It also marks a passing of the pop-culture baton from one era of action movies to another: The musclehead special-forces captain played by Steven Seagal gets offed in the first half hour, and Kurt Russell’s thoughtful antiterrorist think-tank expert must hold together the remaining members — hiding from the bad guys in the plane’s belly — with logic, wit, and chutzpah. Counterstriking by consensus — how very ’90s. Directed by first-timer Stuart Baird, Executive Decision plays fair by both characters and audience, and the result is a rarity — a Die Hard clone that doesn’t taste like guilty-pleasure junk food. B+

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