Rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, nudity, sexuality and an intense action sequence.
Hero Pilot Participates In Cover-Up In Special F/X-Driven Legal Thriller
Co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty) is at the helm of SouthJet Flight 227 from Orlando to Atlanta only because the plane’s captain, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), has passed out after a night of debauchery devoted to drinking booze and snorting coke while carousing with one of his stewardesses (Nadine Velazquez). But when the commercial airliner unexpectedly encounters severe turbulence and starts losing altitude, the concerned rookie immediately rouses the senior officer out of a deep sleep for assistance.
Despite a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit, the veteran aviator assumes control and quickly ascertains that the plane’s plunge is due to a complete failure of the hydraulic system. He further surmises that the only hope of pulling out of the precipitous nosedive depends upon his lowering the landing gear prematurely, dumping fuel, and flying the aircraft upside-down.
Against all odds, he executes each step flawlessly, unless you count clipping the top off a church steeple moments before making an emergency landing in an open field. 96 of the 102 souls aboard survive, and Whip’s astonishing feat is soon the subject of a national media circus, à la Sully Sullenberger’s real-life “Miracle on the Hudson.”
However, in the course of conducting its routine investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) subsequently uncovers incriminating evidence that the pilot had a blood alcohol level of .24 at the time of the accident. And since a half-dozen people perished in the crash, Captain Whitaker could conceivably be held criminally liable for their deaths.
Will the celebrated hero’s image be tarnished by scandal? Not if his defense attorney (Don Cheadle) and union rep (Bruce Greenwood) have anything to say about it. The two hatch a plan to suppress the toxicology report and to sober Whip up by the time of the NTSB hearing.
Directed by Academy Award-winner Robert Zemeckis (for Forrest Gump), Flight is a riveting thriller marked by spellbinding special effects and a nonpareil performance on the part of two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington (for Glory and Training Day). After the spectacular, stomach-churning, opening scene plane crash, the picture shifts in tone to a character-driven portrait of a self-destructive addict in denial and plagued by demons.
The capable supporting cast features Kelly Reilly as Whip’s love interest, John Goodman as his drug dealer, Melissa Leo as a snoopy NTSB bureaucrat, as well as Cheadle and Greenwood. But make no mistake, this is as much a star vehicle as Zemeckis’ Cast Away, where Tom Hanks was the only actor on screen for over an hour.
An instant screen classic destined to be deemed among the very best of Zemeckis, alongside Gump, Back To The Future and What Lies Beneath.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 139 minutes
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, smoking, violence and intense action sequences.
007 Returns For Riveting Roller Coaster Ride
Each new James Bond film is fated to be compared to all the prior installments of the enduring espionage franchise. Directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (for American Beauty), Skyfall earns high grades in that regard, as it pales in the eyes of this purist only in relation to the standard-setting classics starring Sean Connery.
Daniel Craig returns for a third go-round of savoir faire and derring-do as the legendary British secret agent with “a license to kill” in order to match wits with a maniacal madman played by Oscar-winner Javier Bardem (for No Country For Old Men). Besides the obligatory villain bent on world domination, this 007 adventure arrives complete with such series trademarks as witty repartee, a bevy of Bond girls (most notably Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe), exotic locales and a memorable title song (by Adele) oozing the requisite combination of danger and sensuality.
The movie wastes little time launching into high gear, opening with a daredevil motorcycle chase across roofs high above Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, leading to an even more eye-popping stunt atop a careening freight train approaching the proverbial mountain tunnel. The incident ends with a breathtaking, last-second plunge into a river that ostensibly claims Bond’s life.
Back at MI6 headquarters, responsibility for the tragedy is ultimately placed squarely on the shoulders of M (Dame Judi Dench) for failing to find the double-agent in the ranks. Still, she refuses to turn in her resignation when called on the carpet by her unamused boss (Ralph Fiennes).
Of course, 007 isn’t really dead, and he soon resurfaces to embark with M’s blessing on a revenge-fueled, name-clearing, international manhunt with ports-of-call in Macau and Shanghai en route to a spectacular showdown on an ancestral family estate in Scotland. What makes the roller coaster ride so much fun is a plethora of surprising plot twists it would be a crime to spoil.
Just brace yourself for the best Bond episode in ages, thanks to Daniel Craig’s coming of age to make the role his own.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 143 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening November 9, 2012
Lincoln (PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, gruesome images and brief profanity). Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the title role of this historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg focusing on Abraham Lincoln’s clashes with his cabinet over the question of emancipation during the final months of his presidency. Ensemble cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn and James Spader.
28 Hotel Rooms (Unrated). Infidelity drama about a novelist from New York City (Chris Messina) and an accountant from Seattle (Marin Ireland) already in committed relationships who continue to rendezvous after sharing a steamy, one-night stand.
Café De Flore (Unrated). Double-stranded meditation on love, one, set in present-day Montreal, the other, in Paris in the ‘60s. The former revolves around a DJ (Kevin Parent) torn between a girlfriend (Evelyne Brochu) and his ex-wife (Helene Florent), while the latter is about an overprotective single mom’s (Vanessa Paradis) devotion to a son with Down syndrome (Marin Gerrier). With Alice Dubois, Michel Dumont and Linda Smith. (In French with subtitles)
Chasing Ice (Unrated). National Geographic eco-documentary chronicling convincing evidence of climate change courtesy of shocking, time-lapse photography, which compresses years into seconds.
The Comedy (Unrated). Droll drama about an aging prankster (Tim Heidecker) who continues to get his kicks teasing passersby on the streets of Brooklyn with his buddies after inheriting a sizable estate from his late father. With Eric Wareheim, James Murphy and Gregg Turkington.
Coming Up Roses (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama about a broke and depressed former Broadway diva (Bernadette Peters) who is forced to face reality when she and a 15-year-old daughter (Rachel Brosnahan) are turned away at the wedding of her elder daughter (Shannon Esper). With Peter Friedman, Rachel De Courcy and Michael Anzalone.
Dangerous Liaisons (Unrated). Romance drama, set in Shanghai, about a jealous woman (Cecilia Cheung) who dares her millionaire playboy ex-boyfriend (Dong-gun Jang) to seduce and abandon a widow (Ziyi Zhang) new to town, only to have the ploy backfire when the two fall in love. With Shawn Dou, Lisa Lu and Dan Tong Han. (In Mandarin with subtitles)
In Another Country (Unrated). Three discrete tales—each featuring Isabelle Huppert in different situations as a tourist in Korea—looking for a lighthouse, losing an umbrella and falling in love. With Kwon Hae Hyo, Jung Yu Mi and So-ri Moon. (In Korean and English with subtitles)
Luv (Unrated). Fact-based drama, set in Baltimore, about a day-in-the-life of an abandoned 11-year-old (Michael Rainey, Jr.) who becomes embroiled in an escalating series of events leading to a triple-homicide while hanging with his recently-paroled uncle (Common) haunted by a criminal past. Cast includes Meagan Good, Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Lonette Mckee and Charles S. Dutton.
Nature Calls (R for profanity, nudity and sexuality). Sibling rivalry comedy about a Boy Scout leader (Patton Oswalt) who takes his adopted, African nephew (Thiecoura) on a camping trip without his long-estranged brother’s (Johnny Knoxville) permission. With Maura Tierney, SNL alum Darrell Hammond and the late Patrice O’Neal.
A Royal Affair (R for sexuality and violent images). Romance drama revolving around a philandering queen (Alicia Vikander) who schemes with the help of her Royal doctor lover (Mads Mikkelsen) to wrest control of the Danish throne from her insane husband (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), much to the chagrin of her miffed mother-in-law (Søren Spanning). (In Danish, French, German and English with subtitles)
Starlet (Unrated). Intergenerational drama, set in L.A., about the unlikely friendship which blossoms when an aspiring, young actress (Dree Hemingway) finds a small fortune in cash hidden inside an object for sale at a cantankerous, elderly widow’s (Besedka Johnson) yard sale. With James Ransone, Asa Akira, Liz Beebe and Amin Joseph.