42 is about one of the greatest sports figures of the 20th Century. Jackie Robinson not only changed baseball but sports in general and perhaps even influenced the country as a whole. People who never followed baseball or who were born after Robinson retired still remembered his story.
The word most often used to describe Robinson was "gentleman." He suffered abuse and ridicule but rose above it. And he was a fantastic player.
The film gets at most of this--about how Robinson had to rein in his natural disgust at racism, how he had to turn the other cheek. When people threw insults, when they belittled him his reaction was, legendarily genteel. He not only was a great player; he had class.
The film also shows Robinson's rise and the adversity he faced. It shows him as a man, a teammate and a husband.
Chadwick Boseman turns in a fine performance as Robinson. He is charming anddoesn't play Robinson as an icon but rather a human being. He gets angry. He resists the notion that he shouldn't fight back. He struggles.
There isn't a great deal bad to say about the movie. It is professionally done, never lags and the acting is pretty solid throughout--with one surprising exception.
Harrison Ford turns in a truly uneven performance. He occasionally delivers in scenes with Boseman but just as often he is mannered and overacts. He also gets a great deal of screen time. It is a strange performance for Ford.
Unfortunately Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher doesn't get very much screen time.. He stands out as the flamboyant Dodgers manager but is there and gone. That has something to do with reality--Durocher was suspended during Robinson's rookie year.
The movie doesn't totally work however. Somehow it is a little flat which is odd considering the subject matter. It all just seems sort of "matter of fact." We know Robinson's story and we have seen baseball movies before. The movie only follows Robinson through his first year. There has to be a "climactic game" in the movie right? Of course there does!
It seems a little forced, especially since Robinson's Dodgers didn't win the World Series in his first year. It wasn't the culmination of his career. Why didn't the movie focus on his Rookie of the Year award? It was the first ever such award. Or how about more time in spring training? More spring training would have given more potential interaction between Robinson and his teammates. Even some more mention of Robinson's struggles on the field when he moved from short to second base would have been welcome and add a new (and true) dimension.
Even the titles at the end don't mention that Robinson played in six World Series, six All Star Games and was MVP in 1949. It does mention the Dodger's win in the 1955 World Series and his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, of course. Somehow it seems to add up to less than Robinson actually meant.
The movie works because of Robinson's story. It is moving in any form. The acting is mostly good, the direction professional and the writing mostly doesn't fly off the rails (some of the lines Ford has to articulate could be the issue with his performance though). It is a movie that would be a great way to introduce young people to Robinson and his story but doesn't offer as much for the older folks who already know it.
Probably the best approach to seeing The Evil Dead (2013) is to forget it is called Evil Dead. Think of it instead as “People, For Dubious Reasons Go Into The Woods And Inexplicably Read An Evil Book They Shouldn’t And Gross Things Happen”. If you do this? Your viewing experience will be improved.
This isn’t to say this is a bad movie. It isn’t at all. It is a stylishly directed film whose actors make the most of the script they were handed. It looks great, it is way more disgusting than the original but it doesn’t spend so much money as to profane the original film’s low budget roots.
There are changes in the plot that are nowhere near drastic enough to be called “twists.” There is also something really promising in the work of first time director Fede Alvarez. It is just a professionally done horror film that, if not perfect, never lags. It isn’t exceptionally scary, as the ad campaign claims but the original wasn’t really scary, even at the time. It was gross and it was sort of creepy. This film is, as mentioned, far “grosser” and almost manages the creepy thing as well.
There is also something to recommend the film in how a first time director like Alvarez, was the one picked to work this film. It was, way back when, producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s first movie (as director and lead actor respectively). The reason the film was lifted from obscurity was the attention paid by Stephen King. In a way, this remake is the duo’s way of “paying it forward” and, from this film, Alvarez, seems a really promising horror director. He is a far better horror director than some hacks that have tossed out horror movies in recent months.
And who wants to step into the remake of a film that, pretty close to, invented a genre? It takes some guts but when you get the offer, you take it. Alvarez deserves credit.
The film actually develops characters a tiny, tiny bit more than the first film which, frankly, doesn’t bother developing characters at all. Jane Levy (Shameless), as Mia, is a drug addict brought to the cabin by friends and family (estranged friends in part) to help her rehab. Betty Ford might have been a better choice but there you might run into Lindsey Lohan.
So we get she is damaged and why, when weird things happen, no one believes her. It is a good adaptation of the original plot. We get her brother abandoned her and we get she and some of the friends resent him. We don’t need a great deal of back story to bring the plot to a grinding halt via flashbacks and poignant conversations about lost youth. This movie is called EVIL DEAD not The Cider House Rules.
There is no bad acting in this film. The special effects are all professional and disgusting. The plot is something they at the VERY least try to make coherent. Even if it doesn’t bear close inspection, it does so better than the original. But this is never as original as the 1981 film. But how could it be?
Go see this if you are a horror fan and think about how they could make an Evil Dead II with the last survivor at the helm that WOULD break new horror ground. That would be fantastic.
No is the story of the beginning of the end for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. It wasn't done with a violent rebellion, outside intervention or a coup but through an election. The film is, however, not about the plebiscite but mostly about the commercials used to influence voters.
It is an interesting angle. Pinochet, no doubt, sought the "yes" or "no" vote to legitimize his ten year dictatorship. As an egomaniac he likely felt certain of a victory and also could point to economic progress in the country. He hoped the cowed population, many of whom were possibly better off than they had been, would either not vote or vote for him.
And if all else failed perhaps he could just steal the election.
All of this is background for a film that deals almost entirely with the construction of the opposing "commercials" for the "yes" and "no" side. Each side was to get 15 minutes a day for a month.
One of the interesting things about the film is that there are numerous characters and maybe two or three are even given a chance to develop.
Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Motorcycle Diaries) plays René Saavedra, an advertising expert recently returned from exile (presumably for his or his family's leftist leanings). He works for Lucho Guzmán, who is from the other side of the political fence. In the first scene a pitch to a client is interrupted by a visit from a "communist." Of course anyone with a whiff of skepticism over the Pinochet regime be they Christian Democrat, socialist or actual communist might find the term hung around their neck.
The meeting leads to Saavedra working on the campaign for the "No" side. The government hires an Argentine (for SHAME!) to do their production. It is insinuated later that no creative types in Chile would get on board with "yes."
Guzmán, played by Alfredo Castro in an excellent performance, alternates between helping his young protégé and threatening him. The interplay between the two may be the best part of the movie. When he intimates to a government minister that the opposition producers need to have their danger brought home he is cautioned that is a door that, once opened, cannot be closed. Nonetheless, later, he says, basically; we need to fuck them up.
The word "fuck" is basically the reason for the R rating. No reason a young adult cannot see this movie-- aside from an addiction to CGI.
Bernal is a wonderful actor who can convey emotion without a word. This is a role without much over the top emoting but you get Saavedra as a man. No
spends little time on his relationship with his ex-wife but you understand the depth of feeling there from one short, poignant scene alone. Had there been no other such scene the audience would have felt it.
The film mixes archival footage in with the new footage--and this is done seamlessly. Its rough sketch of the history will leave the curious, those unfamiliar with the period, heading to the history books. But the story the film is trying to convene is told in full. This isn't about the 1973 coup. The film also has a rough look to it but this enhances rather than detracts in this case. Not everything has to be Life of Pi
In one brief scene in the film Savaadra and Guzmán discuss which side the Americans are on. Both insist they are on theirs. The curious thing is that in 1973 the USA was certainly on Pinochet's side. Everyone knows the USA didn't just support the coup but was complicit in it. But the notion that the USA was still in the dictator's corner in 1988 is wrong. The USA is no different from any other country. Who we support depends on perceived self-interest (ask Saddam Hussein).
This illustrates all the small bits of subtext that seem to float through this film. If it all sounds sort of dour and serious? That is not how this is presented at all. The film is full of sly humor and clever repartee. In that respect it is like the "No" commercials; it takes something serious and narrows it down to a single aspect. That aspect is then explored in a broad wash.
At the conclusion, in brief sequences, we see how Chile moved past this dark spot in its history but it is again done subtly. A scene from one of the commercial bits shows police in riot gear beating a man with a voice over singling out the victim and one police man. The voice says that each man wants peace, each man is Chilean and that no Chilean should fear another.
Sort of goes for all of us, everywhere, regardless of nationality.
Chan-wook Park‘s first English-language film, Stoker, is one that fans of his well-known trilogy of Korean films may have awaited with equal part eagerness and trepidation. How would the director of Oldboy fare in Hollywood, even in a relatively “small” film? Would they make him include fluffy bunnies? Would he be allowed to show characters cutting out their own tongues?
The answers to these questions are—no and sort of. The story told in this film is as disturbing as his previous films but it is a clearly and drastically different approach. This movie has less violence and it builds suspense. The slow winding up of the suspense in this film recalls Dario Argento but where Argento’s films are dark visually, this one is bright. Even at night the film is never murky, always clear.
The Argento comparison is not really a compliment. Often Argento’s films build suspense that is a let-down in the end. In Stoker the let-down is less pronounced because the buildup is more subtle but it is something of a let-down. When there is such a slow paced, subtle build up, there is bound to be at least some disappointment.
This isn’t to say Stoker is subtle from beginning to end; there are scenes, one at a piano in particular, where you will slap yourself in the forehead and shout “we GET it” about half way through. And this scene isn’t the only one where the symbolism is obvious. There are a few other such moments.
Most of the film, however, reins in these exceses and it looks great. Certainly there are some gimmicky shots in it here and there. These are the sorts of things that worked better in Park’s earlier films than they do here; a slow motion swinging light, changes in angle seem a tad out of place at times. This, however, might be intentional. This is a film that may leave you a little unsatisfied at the end but it will also stick in your mind and keep you thinking about it. The feeling that there is more to it, that there is something missed in it that is almost palpable.
It does a great deal right. It avoids spending too much time on the “strange girl at school” part of the film. A little goes a long way there. There is also some gruesomeness that is left to the imagination which is almost more disturbing.
The film’s actors all turn in, at the very least, above average performances. Mia Wasikowska handles her role as you would expect an actor with her impressive resume. She has turned in fine, if small, performances in Lawless, Defiance and Albert Nobbs. In the lead here she has to be subtle (yes that word again) but she manages to show something of a character that is supposed to be enigmatic, the audience recognizes the archetype through her skill as an actor.
Nicole Kidman also makes the most of her screen time. No back-story is given for us to see her relationship with her husband (it is giving nothing away to say he dies, as the film opens with his funeral more or less). Yet she conveys what that relationship was in a few lines. She is a vulnerable, hollow woman who doesn’t even know who her own daughter is.
Matthew Goode as the wild eyed performance as the vaguely menacing and mysterious uncle plays the role so we know there is something not right. There is something obviously wrong with him. The audience almost want to say; “Err, ladies, this guy is NUTS.” But that is, again, all part of it.
It is sort of curious that in this film, set in the USA, none of the three principle actors are American. Two Australians and an Englishman are tapped for the roles. What? Daniel Day Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln? Rick on The Walking Dead, Dr. House, The Mentalist and now THIS!
While there is nothing wrong with Wentworth Miller III’s (remember the idiotic show Prison Break? He was on it) screenplay you have to wonder what Park would have done had he written it. This appears to be Wentworth’s first stab at a screenplay so maybe cutting some slack is warranted.
An interesting film, an interesting debut for Park in the USA but not a great movie in any sense but a good movie in almost every sense just the same.
The Last Exorcism was a surprise. It was clever, it was scary and it made you care what happened to the characters in the film. The original Last Exorcism even managed to make the, by now, tired “reality television” way the film was shot effective.
It was a surprise. It was a good B horror film that mixed scary with creepy and made you overlook small flaws.
The Last Exorcism Part 2 is not a surprise. You do have to give credit for it not being called, simply, The Last Exorcism 2. That would be like Final Fantasy 2--oh...wait. But you get the point, the people marketing the movie, at the very least, got that “last” didn’t fit with “2.”
And the film deserves more credit than simply that.
It is well-paced, especially in the first half, and the star, Ashley Bell is a truly unique actress. She looks plain one second and beautiful with a smile. A lot of her shifts between girl next door beauty and haggardness are doubtless due to talented make-up artists but a good portion is also due to the actress herself. It is to be hoped she winds up in films beyond B-horror fare --not insulting B-horror at all but she seems to have talent beyond simply that.
The film itself follows its predecessor immediately. Bell’s character, Nell, is the only survivor at the end of the first film and she has been brought to a house for girls in New Orleans. She still has the naïveté displayed in the first film but after being possessed by a demon and witness to a slew of murders this seems a little unlikely (on close examination but, of course, close examination is unwise in horror films).
As you might expect the demon hasn’t headed back to hell but is still on the hunt for—something. The baby in the first film might be expected to play a major role. It doesn’t (and it, it is, no sex is assigned). But that is a minor quibble.
The film is chock full of little jumps and it tries to keep continuity and does so, more or less. It lacks any real surprises though nor does it have any performances that elevate the film. Everyone is professional and solid but no one is given an opportunity to shine except Bell. There is barely another character in the film that couldn’t be described as “generic.” Credit is due for the across the board professionalism, often lacking in horror movies, which are so often just a cheap production aiming at a quick profit. They put some effort into making this work.
But maybe not enough to elevate this sequel to the exalted title of “good.”
It lags about half way through, tosses in the obligatory exorcism--mostly performed by characters that appear at the moment the audience knows an exorcism is to be done--and then ends. The film is a notch above the average horror film but nothing to get terribly excited about. It is to be hoped that this ends the series because anything that follows is bound to be convoluted.
After several years of early in the year horror films that stood out? This year has been less outstanding.
What makes a movie succeed or fail?
That is a question that folks counting beans in Hollywood have asked since Charlie Chaplin was still performing on the stage in London. And the answer has usually been; who knows? But what about what makes a movie GOOD? That answer is not nearly as elusive.
You have to be entertained, the film has to be well-paced and written, the acting has to be decent and you have to, to some extent, care what happens to the characters. And horror films have some other criteria—one being that they have to be scary or, at least, creepy
Unfortunately the recent film, Dark Skies, has a plethora of movie killing traits; it starts slow, it relies on obvious attempts to scare that will draw yawns from horror veterans, the audience cannot possibly care what happens to the characters and, finally, the film is poorly paced.
Poor pacing can kill any movie and it is particularly deadly in a horror or suspense film. The run of the mill set up in Dark Skies (oooh! Something messes with the fridge! Saw that last year in The Possession) is meaningless and seems an afterthought. The characters inspire no emotion (despite the pretty solid acting). It just all seems formula. There are also lots of red herrings and side plots that are totally irrelevant to the plot moving forward. Nothing brings a horror film to a screeching halt faster than a visit from social services because of the abuse the ghost/demon/alien has visited upon a child character. What is worse than that? Bringing such a visit up and it never happening.
There is one scene where the family discusses their past over dinner in a house boarded up to keep the aliens out. Is it an homage or rip off of M. Night Shymalan? Who knows but it just makes the observant viewer recall what a good suspense director Shymalan once was and how hollow and weak Dark Skies is.
The aliens don’t look scary, the plot twist is predictable (it is all predictable) and the movie just exudes arrogance, some sort of “the audience is stupid” vibe. Sure low-budget horror almost always makes money so we are suckered into heading into the theater to see them. Sometimes the films are good--Insidious or The Last Exorcism for instance—and sometimes the films are not so good. But at least give us some indication of mental effort on the part of the director or writers. That is what kills this movie—the boring writing, the mediocre direction.
Sure the aliens look cheesy. So what? The demon possessed people in The Evil Dead look cheesy too but we all, justifiably, love that film. A low budget is no excuse for slapdash execution. The audience pays the same whether the movie cost 1 million or 300 million to make.
Audiences need to pay attention to who makes the movies. Usually Blumhouse Productions make good B horror but this film isn’t good. Everyone misses (can you say Paranormal Activity 4?) but recalling Insidious, the first three Paranormal films and Sinister it is easy to have hope for future Blumhouse films. The director of this film, Scott Stewart, also directed the silly but watchable Legion and the totally unwatchable Priest. He doesn’t have a huge directorial track record so even a look at him on IMDB shouldn’t scare you. But usually? It helps.
Watch who writes and directs. Save yourself nine bucks.
A Good Day To Die Hard isn't the worst action movie you have ever seen. Dolph Lundgren isn't in it. Sylvester Stallone is nowhere to be found. The horribly disfigured Jean-Claude Van Damme at no point crosses proverbial swords with Chuck Norris.
No, A Good Day To Die Hard is just the last gasp of a once proud money machine, the Die Hard series.
The film may even surprise you by how it sucks LESS than you thought it was going to--because let's be serious you only went to see it because you've seen all the Oscar films, seen Side Effects, seen Mama, seen whatever the current kid's cartoon is out. Or maybe it you saw it because of when you walked into the theater.
The film takes a little while to get going. You need to know that John McClain's son is in Moscow and he seems to be some sort of secret agent, unbeknownst to his father. The bad guys come, there is a pretty excellent car chase which likely smashes more cars in a single chase than any movie in history.
And that is awesome. When you cannot have a plot? Destroy things.
The plot in this movie, set in Russia, is so improbable it barely is worth slapping yourself in the head over. The Russians are all pretty much bad. And a couple of Americans set things right. The plot makes some sense within itself and there is the usual double cross.
The real question is--why?
Not why in the context of the movie--there is no answer to that question.
The real world "why" is, of course, money. It is doing respectably making over 37 million in it's first weekend. But this is still the movie that kills the franchise. No one walked out of this movie thinking "I want to see MORE."
There is strange hollowness to this movie. You feel like they want to fill the movie with references to the franchise. Willis meets a chatty cab driver--reminiscent of the limo driver in Die Hard. But then you never see him again. Villains die in a similar way to how villains die in both Die Hard and Die Hard III.
Mostly the movie just plugs along, the little action movie that almost could. It never impresses, it is vaguely watchable but never terribly exciting. You never dislike the villains all that much. There is no Alan Richman or Jeremy Irons to elevate material. Hell, there isn't even a William Sadler or John Amos. One of the characters does resemble Franco Nero.
This is the example of how a franchise sputters to death. Each movie made more money than the last and had less life than the last (you could make a case #3 is better than #2). You would have to compare the 1988 dollar to the 2007 dollar to see how much the increase was in reality. But there is no more life here. There is nothing new to say and nothing interesting to do. It is to be hopes Bruce Willis begs off any sequel, effectively killing it. End it now...or make it about zombies and have Hans Gruber rise from the grave.
Life of Pi is a remarkable film. It is a faithful adaptation of a thoughtful and even beloved book that still condenses or eliminates elements that might not work on screen. It is also a rare non-animated, feature length film where the 3D is not only well done but essential. Other films have been made with watchable 3D or even good 3D but essential? Certainly some terrible movies have been made barely watchable with 3D (Avatar) and there was even a documentary, Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams where 3D is essential but no other feature movie springs readily to mind where the 3D truly helps make the film great.
The 3D in this film is a big part of the film being great. It is more than the cinematography being spectacular it is how the visuals connect to the story. You recall imagery from this film more than the dialog, than the acting.
This isn’t to denigrate the acting or the screenplay—it is just an incredibly visual film. This may be Ang Lee's best film and screenwriter, David MaGee's adaptation is remarkable. It is a film where one actor, Suraj Sharma, bears most of the load and he does it admirably, especially considering this is his first major film. There are, of course, worthy supporting roles. Most notable is Irrfan Khan as the older version of the main character. You may recall him as the police inspector in Slumdog Millionaire. His credits in Indian films are too numerous to mention.
But is the film about what we see on the surface alone? Is it just a pretty and magical 3D ride? It is not.
Life of Pi builds up a notion that stories have a life of their own. Reality never truly corresponds with stories we tell. We experience something and then we tell people about that something. Yet the story, however accurately try to relay it, is never truly the same as the experience. This is by definition. Which is correct; the story or the actual experience?
It is a question the more literal minded will answer without a thought. But think on that a bit; the event is frozen in time while the story lives and breathes. What we believe is as real as what actually happened.
That is the essence of the film, what we can take away from it is that our lives, our stories are what we believe them to be—what we choose. Reality is not some hard fast thing. There is magic all around us, every day, if we simply choose to bring it to life.
This film, and certainly the book it is based on, juxtaposes the “real” world, against the world we choose. But it does more than that. Both film and book call our attention to the magic and wonder in the world and force us to think about the disappointments in life and how, by simple perception, we can take one view, one narrative, of our lives and see it differently—not as a lie, not as wishful thinking or a rewriting of the past but as a different story, a different interpretation.
Django Unchained makes you wonder what is next. Inglourious Basterds rewrote the history of World War II to what many of us, no doubt, regard as a better resolution. Burning those responsible for the Holocaust and the bloodiest war in human history alive is far more satisfying than cyanide, self-inflicted bullet wounds or boring trials.
Django Unchained does the same for the historic crime of slavery. Guess what? There is lots of blood and brutality mixed with humor. This is a film in the upper echelon of Tarantino's work--even comparing favorably to films like Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.
Of course, in slavery, there is no ONE person (like Hitler) that you can focus all your rage on. So? You create a loathsome, sadistic plantation owner, Calvin Candie.
Candie, not only an evil character but one with bad teeth. Both of these are novel in the career of Leonardo DiCaprio--an unattractive character both physically and morally. There is nothing to like about DiCaprio's Candie. Of course this character is writ large and broad and requires some serious scenery chewing which DiCaprio does with gusto.
To face Candie's evil we have two protagonists--Dr. King Schultz and Django. The former is a former German dentist turned bounty hunter and the later a slave being sold. Schultz needs Django to identify men he is chasing and Django needs his freedom to rescue his wife. Christoph Waltz turns in a performance every bit as memorable as his Oscar winning role as Colonel Hans Landa. Jamie Foxx turns in a performance worthy of any Western. He is John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood all rolled into one.
Guess who winds up in possession of his wife? Yes! Calvin Candie! And also Django's wife speaks German and is named Broomhilda.
One really interesting choice in the film is the REAL villain--Samuel L. Jackson's Stephen, the head house "nigger" (If you have a strong aversion to the "N-word" this isn't the film for you). It is a peculiar choice for a villain. Generally, a black character isn't going to be the villain of a slavery film (after Birth of a Nation anyway) but Tarantino creates Stephen, a character somehow more evil than Candie in that he works against his own kind. Django plays at being a black slaver but Stephan is really complicit in the oppression of his own people. He is a cog in the machine of slavery. He is Judas, worse than Judas.
Django Unchained has a slew of cameos, some are hilarious and others seemingly random appearances by well known actors. Keep your eyes open for these. Many of these small roles really add to the film. Laura Cayouette as Candie's sister, Miss Laura, barely says a word but still brings something to the film (maybe even a hint of an unnatural relationship with her brother). Don Johnson, Walter Goggins, Jonah Hill and Tom Wopat all turn up in the film at various points and they are not alone.
This film may slow down a wee bit here and there but, rest assured, these lulls (and they are brief) are punctuated with unexpected violence or humor. This film flows far better than Inglourious Basterds and it combines all the best of Tarantino's past work. Tarantino nods to film history here and there. You always get the impression in his better films that every detail is in a greater context and this is certainly true in Django Unchained. These roots, this context, is emphatically not in history but in film history. In a way Tarantino 's film isn't about righting the wrongs of slavery but about righting the wrongs of how slavery has been depicted in film--from the earliest American "epic" to the happy, sassy, slaves of subsequent films.
Hopefully this isn't the final rewriting of this history. Django II anyone?
Denzel Washington always elevates his material. He takes a throwaway action flick and makes you pay attention (Safe House for instance). Washington is one of those actors that demand an audience’s attention. You could make a list of films, going back decades, where he takes something that would, without his presence, not be worth a thought and makes it worth looking at.
His latest film, Flight, is the story of a hard drinking pilot who saves most of the lives on a flight he pilots. The catch is that he is drunk and on drugs while doing it. What to do in such a case? Is he a hero or is he a monster?
Washington makes his character more than either of those things, he makes him a man. His Whip Whitaker isn’t a good man but rather one who is out of control, who has a side that seems to care—for his son, for people he meets but then? When push comes to shove? A bottle matters more. He isn’t evil, he isn’t a caricature but rather a flawed man lost in a nightmare of his own creation. You will literally squirm as his character makes certain decisions in the film.
The supporting cast includes Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman and Don Cheadle (as well as Kelly Reilly, Tamara Tunie and Nadine Velasquez). This is a pretty good group of supporting actors to have surrounding Washington. He doesn’t need to carry this film on his back. Cheadle is Whitaker’s attorney—as interested in pushing liability away from the airline as in saving Whitaker. Greenwood is an old friend and fellow pilot whose affection for Whitaker is balanced by his knowledge of his old friend’s demons. No scenery chewing from any of these actors. The characters they bring to life here seem quite real and have complicated motivations. Every single character has to make decisions about Whitaker and what he means in their lives.
Flight is also notable for one of the best shot, scariest, plane crash sequences ever put on film. There have been a few that were nerve wracking (Fearless, for example) but this one may well be the best ever. How many times do frequent flyers have to take off in miserable weather? Isn’t there always a little nervousness in the back of the mind of even the least fearful passenger? You know that your life is literally in the hands of someone else. In the case of this film the passengers are in the hands of a pilot with a brutal hangover.
Is Flight a ground breaking film? Probably not but it is a professionally done film that stays consistent within itself—and where everyone on screen is believable. It doesn’t really do a great deal that hasn’t been dealt with in other films about substance abuse. It really brings no deep insight into how lawyers, pilots and airlines behave after a crash. It is not a film that should be mentioned as one of the best of the year but not every film has to be that. It is, in a way, a film about ethics and about choices as much as it is about drug abuse and plane crashes. It puts you in a place where you have to wonder what you might do, faced with personal ruin.
Would you do the right thing? Or just the right thing for you?