18 Movie Reviews in 28 Days #7: Flight

flight_ver3

I have a confession. I hadn’t seen the movie Flight because it was directed by Robert Zemeckis. Don’t get me wrong, I like Zemeckis, but he’s a fairly safe director. His movies are usually PG or PG-13 and they rarely push any sort of boundaries. It tends to be almost impossible to be offended watching a Robert Zemeckis movie no matter who you are. It’s one of the reasons he’s had a very successful career for decades. So he wasn’t the first person I thought of when it comes to making a movie about an alcoholic pilot who crashes a commercial jet.

Flight lets us know right away though that this is not going to be a movie for all audiences. The opening scene show a nude woman and the use of cocaine and marijuana. This was a great way to get rid of any apprehensions the audience might have that Zemeckis can’t do dark.

Pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a veteran commercial airline pilot with a long history as a high functioning alcoholic. When he finds himself too drunk he just does a line or two of cocaine to get straight. He’s as good at his addictions as he is at flying. So when everything goes wrong on a quick flight from Orlando to Atlanta, Whip ably deals with increasingly impossible adversity, but it’s not enough to keep the plane in the air.

During his recovery, he meets another addict named Nicole (Kelly Reilly) and they form a tenuous relationship in the way that only two people drowning might do. It’s desperate and it’s doomed and it’s inevitable.

The storyline for the film is equally desperate and doomed and inevitable. We pretty much already know how things are going to go in a film like this. Alcoholic movies have a pattern and this one doesn’t stray too far from it.

Luckily, it’s aided by good filmmakers and an excellent support cast. I’d argue that John Goodman’s character is enough to merit watching Flight all on its own. Don Cheadle’s lawyer character has a few great moments as well.

Flight is a good alcoholic movie. It’s a definite departure for Zemeckis. Denzel Washington is excellent. But much like Zemeckis’ other work, there’s really nothing groundbreaking going on here.

Flight is currently available on Netflix of you can purchase Flight at this link.

Advertisements

18 Days of Movie Reviews #1: The Equalizer

The_Equalizer

I had heard that The Equalizer was ‘The Punisher movie you want to see’. I never watched the original TV show but I was aware of the concept. The lone angry man with deadly skills genre has been alive and well for decades. This one has a lot going for it. Antoine Fuqua’s last movie before this was Olympus Has Fallen which felt like the best Die Hard sequel since the original. And having Fuqua team with Denzel again after their previous successes like Training Day is a great idea.

The first thing I noticed about The Equalizer was that it’s beautiful. I don’t know what cameras were used, but the textures and scenery in The Equalizer is occasionally jaw dropping. Cinematographer Mauro Fiore did some really amazing work here on the sort of movie that doesn’t usually get this kind of attention.

As the movie starts out, Denzel is playing a quiet man named McCall. McCall is in his 50s who works at a hardware store, keeps to himself, and more than anything stays in a set pattern. His OCD seems to make his life work like clockwork. He lives the life of a simple man, but it’s clear that things weren’t always simple for him.

He has trouble sleeping so he regularly goes to an all-night diner and reads. When something bad happens to a young hooker who is a regular at the diner, McCall chooses not to ignore it.

The first time we experience McCall’s violence, it’s reminiscent of a super hero movie. He has a keen situational awareness that borders on the supernatural. The key difference here is that Fuqua never even tries to get a PG-13 rating. The violence is bloody, quick, and brutal and Denzel does it better than most.

There’s a scene later in the movie where someone says, “He wasn’t asking for help. He was asking permission.” This is what makes the movie not so much a revenge film as it is a vigilante film. McCall isn’t looking for payback. He’s simply found an excuse to use his deadly skills on bad people. The hooker he’s avenging is practically an afterthought.

One interesting quirk of The Equalizer is that McCall never uses a gun. It’s never explicitly stated why he doesn’t use one and it makes for more visceral violent scenes when he chooses to be deadly, but it’s also almost distracting. Why go to all the trouble of killing people in the many and various ways he does when he could just shoot them and be done with it?

As angry-man-with-deadly-skills movies go, The Equalizer is entirely enjoyable and fun to watch. It’s a solid action movie and it never strives to be anything more than that.

While the rest of the movie is populated with both big name and unknown actors who do good work, none of it really stands out. This is a one man show and Denzel Washington is that man. He is The Equalizer.

– Jack Cameron

You can rent or purchase The Equalizer at this link.

Tomorrow’s Review: Chef