by Matt J. Popham

A preachy, leaden screenplay worthy of a TV movie- No, sorry, that’s not fair… A preachy, leaden screenplay worthy of two TV movies (one about a plane crash, the other about addiction) awkwardly mashed together, serviceably directed by Robert Zemeckis, and featuring the most painfully on-the-nose soundtrack in recent memory (“Under the Bridge” AND “Sweet Jane” for the heroin addict…? Really…? And can we launch a petition to forbid “Gimme Shelter” from ever being used in a movie again…?), if it weren’t for Denzel Washington’s phenomenal performance (made all the more remarkable by the heavy-handed material he often has to sell), it would be unwatchable. If not a career zenith, Washington’s performance is, at least, a career milestone, on par with his work in Malcolm X, He Got Game and The Hurricane. He tears into Flight’s Whip Whitaker, revealing a weakness, a desperation and a vulnerability that he has never before played so nakedly and fearlessly. The Best Actor Oscar should go HERE (yeah, I said it). It won’t, but it should. And it’s unfortunate that (as with Hurricane) his performance is trapped in an otherwise very missable, second-rate film. (By the way, was that Rubicon’s James Badge Dale, again, knocking it out of the park for five minutes as a cancer patient in the hospital stairway…? Yes, it was… Is it me, or is this guy Hollywood’s best kept secret…?)


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