American President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is flying home from Moscow with his family and entourage on the presidential plane Air Force One. After posing as journalists to get on board, a group of terrorists, led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman), seize control of the craft. They threaten to kill everyone on board unless their leader, General Radek, is released from prison by the White House. It seems that Marshall has escaped in a pod, but in reality he has concealed himself in the hold. After telephoning the White House on his mobile phone with instructions not to negotiate, Marshall sets about releasing the hostages.