Summary: After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims.
Cinema Release Dates: 21st July 2022 (Australia), 14th July 2022 (Thailand), 24th June 2022 (UK), 24th June 2022 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: TBA
Director: Scott Derrickson
Screenwriter: C Robert Cargill, Scott Derrickson
Cast: Kristina Arjona (Mrs. Fulgrim), Rebecca Clarke (Donna), Jeremy Davies (Terrence), Spencer Fitzgerald (Buzz), Ethan Hawke (The Grabber), Brady Hepner (Vance), Madeline McGraw (Gwen), E. Roger Mitchell (Detective Wright), Miguel Cazarez Mora (Robin), Jacob Moran (Billy), Sheila O’Rear (Principal Keller), Tristan Pravong (Bruce), James Ransone (Max), Banks Repeta (Griffin), Troy Rudeseal (Detective Miller), Brady M. Ryan (Matt), Parrish Stikeleather (Mister Hopkins), Mason Thames (Finney), Jordan Isaiah White (Matty), J Gaven Wilde (Moose)
Running Time: 103 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia), 15 (Thailand), 15 (UK), R (USA)
OUR THE BLACK PHONE REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ The Black Phone Review:
Every now and then a film comes along in the horror genre that changes the genre forever. Way back in 1999 The Blar Witch Project introduced us to the found-footage sub-genre which is still going strong today. Then of course filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell in 2004 released a little film called Saw that not only introduced us to two of the greatest horror filmmakers of all time but also created what many now refer to as the torture-porn sub-genre.
Now Blumhouse Productions alongside director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) are about to change the horror genre once again by showing just how nasty a serial killer movie can be with The Black Phone. This takes the suspense and claustrophobic feel of a film like Saw but gives it a villain that has normally been reserved for suspense films like Se7en or The Silence Of The Lambs.
Set in a Denver in 1978 The Black Phone shows the terror that goes through a neighbourhood when a serial killer that has been nicknamed The Grabber (Ethan Hawke – Training Day) starts a murderous spree that is claiming the lives of their children.
For siblings Finney (Mason Thames – For All Makind) and Gwen (Madeline McGraw – American Sniper) the horror comes close to home when their friend Robin (Miguel Cazarez Mora – newcomer) disappears and it is believed that he is the next victim of The Grabber.
That sparks Gwen starting to have visions of The Grabber which angers her father, Terence (Jeremy Davies – Saving Private Ryan), because it proves that she shares her deceased mother’s psychic abilities and places their family in the spotlight with Detective Wright (E. Roger Mitchell – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and Detective Miller (Troy Rudeseal – Halloween Kills). But soon Gwen’s connection becomes valuable when Finney is taken by The Grabber and finds himself locked in the killer’s basement.
There is no point trying to sugar-coat anything about The Black Phone – this is extremely difficult film to watch, but in a good way. Such is the style of Derrickson’s filmmaking here you find yourself feeling dirty as you watch the film because the realism of the film makes you feel that you are locked in that basement with Finney.
Wherever you turn in this film there is brutality. From the scene in which Robin viciously protects himself from a bully through to the abuse that Gwen suffers at the hands of her father – there is no escaping it and no reprieve for the audience. That feeling is intensified even more when the audience is first introduced to The Grabber.
What makes this film work so well is the fact that it constantly keeps its audience asking questions. From the very first moment the audience meets The Grabber they find themselves asking just what is this guy’s motives and what exactly are his plans for Finney. If they are not intense enough questions to be asking soon the audience also finds themselves asking questions about the supernatural element of the black phone that Finney finds himself locked in with. Are they really the spirits of The Grabber’s past victims that he is talking to and if so how the hell does that work?
Horror fans have know for awhile now that Scott Derrickson has been a director to watch. His early films, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Deliver Us From Evil, hinted at a director that was capable of great things but now The Black Phone solidifies that. From the period setting of the 1970s through to the extreme realism that Derrickson manages to capture in such a macabre and confronting film proves that he now needs to be considered alongside the greats of horror filmmaking.
Of course a film like this only works if the actor playing the villain puts in a career best performance and that is certainly the case here with Ethan Hawke. Hawke for a long time has been one of Hollywood’s most under-rated actors and here playing the menacing The Grabber he comes to the fore with a performance that needs to be talked about during the awards period. Even in scenes where he doesn’t have to speak Hawke’s portrayal of The Grabber is intimidating and threatening throughout… this is one of the best performances we have seen on screen for a long time.
With Hawke stealing the spotlight throughout this film it is easy to overlook the performances of Mason Thames and Madeline McGraw who despite their inexperience manage to shine in a film that they are not even old enough to watch in a cinema. Both are destined for great things with acting abilities well beyond their years.
The Black Phone is easily one of the best films of 2022. This is the film where Derrickson comes of age as a director and shows that he is now one of the horror genres leading directors. This film may not always be an easy or comfortable watch for its audience but they are handsomely rewarded for their effort with a film that is guaranteed to become a classic.
Dave’s rating Out Of 5
Alex First & Peter Krausz’s The Black Phone Review:
Summary: When young Detective Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is moved into a tough squad of the Atlanta Police Department he is unaware that his new partner, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), is corrupt and working with a group of criminals including Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) and another corrupt officer, Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jnr.).
With the group running a series of robberies for Russian Mafia boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) they find themselves stretched to the limit and it is decided that the only way to pull off the hardest of the robberies is to have Triple 9 (Police officer down) call put across the airwaves. Their chosen target is Chris because they know his uncle, respected Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) will pull every officer onto the case.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: John Hillcoat
Screenwriter: Matt Cook
Cast: Terri Abney (Leah Green), Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Armando Alonzo (Emilio), Michelle Ang (Trina Ling), Carlos Aviles (Fernando Rivera), Alexander Babara (Ben Feldman), Anthony Belevstov (Yussel Gotlib), Ian Casselberry (Gomez), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Franco Rodriguez), Luis Da Silva Jnr. (Luis Pinto), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Gal Gadot (Elena Vlaslov), Michael Harding (Walter Sims), Woody Harrelson (Jeffrey Allen), Karen Kaia Livers (Shanice), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Blake McLennan (Felix), Valiant Michael (Sergio), E. Roger Mitchell (Smith), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Terence Rosemore (Joshua Parks), Labrandon Shead (Sgt. Pete Nelson), Christiana Simonds (Christina), Michael Kenneth Williams (Sweet Pea), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)
Runtime: 115 mins
OUR TRIPLE 9 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Yes it might be a year when we are getting films like Batman vs Superman and of course another Captain America film but one of the films I was most excited to see this year was Triple 9. Triple 9 looked like it would be interesting watch, not only did it have a stellar cast involved including two of my favourites Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet (who never normally chooses a bad script) but was also directed by John Hillcoat whose filmography contains films like TheProposition, The Road and Lawless all films that have revealed that he is gritty director certainly worth watching the work of. Throw in a healthy dose of Police corruption and this was well and truly on the road to becoming one of my fave films of the year. That was until I sat down and watched it.
To be honest Triple 9 isn’t a bad film, in fact many elements of the film do in fact work. Hillcoat is at his normal gritty best with some realistic action sequences in which a normal cops and robbers chase across Atlanta becomes something of violent beauty, while some of the urban shoot-outs will have the audience on the edge of their seat. The problem with Triple 9 though is that it tries to do too much and is sadly let down by a script that needed just a few more re-writes.
It’s not surprising to learn that Triple 9’s screenwriter Matt Cook is a first time feature writer. The idea behind Triple 9 is sound but still the screenplay itself has some very big holes. First of all there is way too much happening and too many of the characters are too similar, so similar in fact that some of the critics at the Melbourne media screening were turning to each other and asking ‘who the hell was?’ after the screening… never a good sign.
As a screenwriter Cook seems to created quite a good world with a massive amount of back story that just doesn’t come through during the film. Just how did Michael start having a relationship with Elena, what ended etc are just never fully explained. Then there are huge plotholes like if all the team need is for a Triple 9 call to go over the airwaves do they really need to shoot a cop or can they just ‘pretend’ a cop has been shot? A seasoned screenwriter would have known to have ironed out things like that during the writing process but sadly that is something that Cook has overlooked. Hillcoat does all he can to make the screenplay watchable but just falls short of making this a decent film.
Likewise the weak screenplay also leaves some of the cast floundering as well. Luckily Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet are there to save things. Affleck does a more than admirable job playing the fresh faced Chris, but it is Winslet that really excels herself. Casting Winslet as a Russian Mafia boss was a risky pick. A pick so risky that if she had failed she could have been looking at finding herself in Golden Razzie territory, luckily though she is up to the task and Winslet delivers another fine performance… this time showing that she can pretty much handle anything that is thrown at her.
Also up to the task is Harrelson who seems to borrow a little bit from his role that he had in Rampart. Those suffering though are the likes of Antony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor who in roles where they are severely hampered by the fact that their characters are dangerously clichéd. Then there are poor Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer and Michelle Ang whose characters just seem to go missing for huge chunks of the film.
There is no doubt that with a little bit more work on the screenplay Triple 9 could have been a brilliant film. The poor screenplay unfortunately though leaves the audience asking too many questions and dumps this film right in the middle of a heap of other average films. While it may appeal to fans of The Shield don’t expect the writing of Triple 9 to ever lift it to anything near as brilliant.
Australian director John Hillcoat makes visceral, violent, dark and aggressively masculine thrillers, ranging from the bleak prison drama Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead through to the gritty outback western The Proposition, the apocalyptic journey into a heart of darkness with The Road or the prohibition era crime drama Lawless. And he seems to be able to attract A-list actors to work with him. Hillcoat’s latest film is another gritty and morally murky crime drama that is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. Triple 9 features a strong cast, some strong action sequences and a high body count. But it is also something of a disappointment given his body of work.
Written by first time writer Matt Cook, Triple 9 is set on the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia, a lawless city full of crime and corruption where the gang and gun culture seems out of control. But the script itself raises too many questions and there are some gaping holes in the plot. Some of the dialogue is cliched, and the characterisation underdone.
When the film opens a carefully planned bank robbery is in progress. The thieves rob some money but their prime interest lies with a safety deposit box that holds some important documents vital to a Russian gangster incarcerated in a Siberian gulag. The thieves turn out to be a couple of former special forces operatives and a couple of corrupt cops. They have been blackmailed by the powerful Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet, cast against type), the wife of the Russian gangster, into working for the Kosher Nostra, a criminal gang of Russian Jews. But Irina welshes on paying them, instead she forces them to break into a Homeland Security safe house, an even more secure location, to steal further incriminating evidence. The thieves plan to distract the police by killing honest cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck).
On the trail of the daring brazen thieves is veteran detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be Chris’s cousin.
The title comes from the police code for “Officer Down,” a code that sees police officers everywhere stop what they are doing and respond immediately to the distress signal. The film itself is full of some violent action, double crosses and revenge. But this contemporary heist thriller is also a morally empty film, and its seedy air of corruption and desperation reminds audiences of Training Day and the films of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, etc).
Hillcoat certainly directs with energy and he maintains a fast pace throughout. He effectively ramps up the action with a superb urban shootout that imitates Michael Mann’s superb Heat, and an exciting adrenaline charged car chase on the city’s freeway.
Belgian cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis (the moody crime drama The Drop, etc) gives the film a grimy authenticity as he has shot the film largely using a restless handheld cameras to take us into the action. This is particularly effective in a couple of tense scenes. He has also shot in muted colours, lots of reds and blacks that is meant to intensify the mood, but the colour scheme also sometimes renders it hard to discern what is happening. The film has also been edited in that rapid, kinetic style by Dylan Tichenor (who has worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson) which sometimes renders the action incomprehensible. And too many of the characters seems too similar and we never really get a handle on them and what makes them tick.
Strong performances from Affleck, Winslet and Harrelson bolster the film. Winslet steps into a role originally intended for Cate Blanchett (who wisely said “nyet”), but she adopts a convincing Russian accent and a cool icy demeanour. Affleck delivers one of his best perfomances yet as the fresh faced cop unaware of the corruption surrounding him. Harrelson is also good as the seedy and jaded veteran cop with an addiction problem, a role that has some similarities to his recent work in True Detective and the gritty drama Rampart.
Unfortunately, talented players like Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clifton Collins jr, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus find themselves stuck with cliched, one-dimensional characters ands do not leave much of an impression.
With its convoluted plotting and cliched characters, Triple 9 is unfortunately just another police action thriller that doesn’t really offer anything particualrly new or surprising.
John Hillcoat has an impressive back catalogue to show off. All of them tapping into a vein of masculinity being tested. Whether it be Ray Winstone saving face in The Proposition, Viggo Mortensen going above and beyond fatherly duties in The Road, or literally every cell mate in Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead. Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 lets Hillcoat return to these themes and, well, triple them. Not always to great effect.
In Atlanta, Georgia, three professional criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) join up with two corrupt lawmen (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jnr) to rob a bank at the behest of a Russian mob wife (Kate Winslet). She stiffs the group on their reward, politely and violently asking them do one last robbery for the sake of her incarnated husband.
Each of the man has a lot to lose, financially and personally, if they don’t steam ahead. Ejiofor, for example, will lose custody rights to the kid he’s fathered with Winslet’s sister. So, realizing that the robbery is impossible unless they come up with a big enough distraction, the decision is made to kill a cop on the day. With Atlanta’s police searching for a cop killer, they should have plenty of time to get in and out unnoticed. Enter Casey Affleck as Mackie’s new partner, who he clearly doesn’t care for.
Triple 9 is bolshy, angry and suffers from excess in all departments. With such a pedigree of cast on display, I haven’t even mentioned Woody Harrelson yet, it’s understandable the film wants to get plenty of bang for its buck.
This should be an ensemble piece, but it feels like Triple 9 can’t decide who its focus is. Is it Affleck stumbling around naively? Is it Mackie wrestling with his subconscious? Perhaps it’s Ejiofor battling to see his son. Triple 9 wants it to be all of them. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t achieve its goals.
Meanwhile, Hillcoat’s direction paints a suitably sweaty, gritty world lit in blue and red. At it’s best, it’s a reminder of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. At it’s worst it’s Heat as directed by Michael Bay, where men are real chest beating men and women have minimal dialogue or clothing. That’s not an exaggeration as Triple 9 ensures that anyone remotely female is saved for background or wifely duties. It’s only really Winslet that manages to rise above the heap and she does so with an outrageous accent.
There is still a lot to enjoy here, with some breathtaking set pieces that suggest Hillcoat could be eyeing up an action movies as his next gig. But this is then clouded by overripe dialogue, undercooked characterisation and so much backstabbing it makes Wild Things blush. Please understand, this isn’t a bad film. It’s perfectly serviceable, but it is not what we expect from Hillcoat, who has proven in the past he can play with restraint. Enjoyable, but a bit of a misstep.
Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat and containing a decent cast consisting of Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and many more. Personally I am not one who is into all the Police and crime films but after seeing Triple 9 I must say that is a film that is definitely worth watching. The film opens with a bang consisting of a bank robbery and from that point on the film is non-stop action. There aren’t any big defying scenes of the film that consist of car chases and explosions but the film is very confronting when it comes to the criminal side of things. The film has a lot of graphic scenes which really gives the film a very dark feel to it. Some of the things I liked about the film was the story and the acting. The story itself had many twists and turns that you don’t see coming and it adds so much to the film when you see something you don’t believe would happen. The acting in the film from all the actors was incredible. The pure emotion that was seen on screen was great to me.
If your a fan of the Police and crime films this is a film that you really should go see.
Summary: Katniss and Peeta are dethroned from their respective victory riches and are put back into the arena for the most climatic and menacing of the Hunger Games, known as the Quarter Quell.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st November, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Colllins (novel)
Cast: Nelson Ascencio (Flavius), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Bruce Bundy (Octavia), John Casino (Woof), Sam Clafin (Finnick Odair), Lynn Cohen (Mags), Rita Conte (Hob), Stef Dawson (Annie Cresta), Rode Ferland (Marcus), Wilbur Fitzgerald (Cray), Meta Golding (Enobaria), Bruno Gunn (Brutus), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Megan Hayes (Female Morphling),, Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), Maria Howell (Seeder), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Toby Jones (Claudius Templesmith), Bobby Jordan (Blight), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna), Sandra Ellis Lafferty (Greasy Sae), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason), E. Roger Mitchell (Chaff), Amanda Plummer (Wiress), Jack Quaid (Marvel), Alan Ritchson (Gloss), Elena Sanchez (Cecelia), Stephanie Leigh Schlund (Cashmere), Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen), Taylor St. Clair (Ripper), Patrick St. Esprit (Commander Thread), Donald Sutherland (President Snow), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee)
Runtime: 146 mins
OUR THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Adam Ross: You can read Adam’s full The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review on The Crat.
Nick Gardener: You can read Nick’s full The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review on Southern FM
The original “The Hunger Games” film left audiences in the middle. On one hand it was a better teenage genre flick than the later “Twilight Saga” films, but on the other hand the fact it was aimed at a younger audience meant that director Gary Ross held back on some of the darker elements that were portrayed in the novel.
Now comes “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” the difficult second film in the trilogy. Some three-part franchises choke when it comes to the second film, the film does nothing to bridge the first to the third film and becomes a dull affair for the audience. That certainly can’t be said for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” that equals the original film and overcomes a couple of flaws by director Francis Lawrence’s (“Water For Elephants,” “I Am Legend”) decision to allow the film to find its dark side.
Following the series of novels by Suzanne Collins “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is set twelve months after the original film. The young hero Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence – “The Devil You Know,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) is back living in District 12, although this time she is the nicer diggings of the Victor’s Village. Life is far from easy for her though as Katniss is forced to live a double life. Behind closed doors she is sorting out her feelings for good friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth – “Paranoia,” “Empire State”) while in public her fake relationship with fellow Hunger Games winner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson – “Epic,” “Red Dawn”) must continue.
On the eve of joining the promotional train for the 75th Annual Hunger Games Katniss’ life is further turned upside down when she learns that her’s and Peter’s actions have seen them become the face of a threatened revolution. After a threat from President Snow (Donald Sutherland – “Jappeloup,” “The Best Offer”) Katniss realises that she must ‘tow the line’ but with that not working she soon finds her and Peter having to team up with Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson – “Out Of The Furnace,” “Free Birds”) to survive a new game thought up by Snow and his new right-hand man Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman – “A Late Quartet,” “The Master”).
Francis Lawrence does push the boundaries of this franchise a little more. He makes it a bit bloodier and even enhances the metaphor of Snow’s regime being similar to Nazi Germany but sadly Lawrence and his cinematographer Jo Willems (“Gotham,” “Limitless”) leave the audience a little underwhelmed with the film awash with a bland look.
Still that doesn’t put too much of a dampener on the film because the story really does come to the forefront. This film raising the stakes for most of the main characters certainly brings more suspense to the screen and despite some badly signposted areas of the film there are enough unexpected twists and turns to warrant the audience paying full attention. Unlike most teenage franchises you also get the feeling that this is one series that isn’t too afraid to kill off main characters if the story calls for that, at the end of the day that just enhances the suspense even more.
One disappointing thing about “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is that Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence just seem to breeze through their performances. Lawrence has shown in films like “Winter’s Bone” and “Silver Linings Playbook” that she is one of the finest young actresses going around but she never really gets to show those skills this time around. A real waste of an Oscar winner if I’ve ever seen one.
Liam Hemsworth also doesn’t get any decent screen time but Donald Sutherland is rewarded for his patience with the first film with the chance to really sink his teeth into a really menacing role… something that he seems to grasp with two hands. But stealing the show are Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci (“The Fifth Estate,” “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters”). Harrelson continues to remind audiences what a fine actor he is with his great portrayal of the alcoholic Haymitch while Tucci shows his versatility by showboating as the energetic master-of-ceremonies Caesar.
There is no doubt that Francis Lawrence certainly lifts this franchise to a different level with his darker approach to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Sure there will be some out there that simply want to put the film down because it is part of a popular franchise but truthfully this is fairly decent film that certainly isn’t a waste of time to take a look at.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire′: You can also read Dave’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
Summary: In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award® winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 31st January, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriter: John Gatins
Cast: Michael Beasley (Officer Edmonds), Garcelle Beauvais (Deana), Ron Caldwell (Trevor), Don Cheadle (Hugh Lang), Dane Davenport (Derek Hogue), Brian Geraghty (Ken Evans), Peter Gerety (Avington Carr), John Goodman (Harling Mays), Bruce Greenwood (Charlie Anderson), Rhoda Griffis (Amanda Anderson), Tommy Kane (Mark Mellon), Ravi Kapoor (Dr. Kenan), Melissa Leo (Ellen Block), Bethany Ann Lind (Sheila), Justin Martin (Will), E. Roger Mitchell (Craig Matson), Piers Morgan (himself), Tom Nowicki (Len Caldwell), Conor O’Neill (Kip), Kelly Reilly (Nicole), Will Sherrod (Schecter), Gregory Marshall Smith (Greg), Jim Tilmon (himself), Adam Tomei (Fran), Tamara Tunie (Margaret Thomason), Nadine Velazquez (Katerina Marquez), Shannon Walshe (Tilda Banden), Denzel Washington (Whip Whitaker), Darius Woods (Young Will), Boni Yanagisawa (Camelia Satou)
Runtime: 139 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Flight’ Review:
Look no further ‘Flight’ is the best disaster film that you are ever likely to see. Director Robert Zemeckis breaks his string of animation films (that have included ‘Polar Express’, ‘Beowulf’ and ‘A Christmal Carol’) with ‘Flight’, a film that centres more on its flawed hero rather than the actual disaster at hand.
The hero that Robert Zemeckis decides to concentrate on is long-time pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington – Safe House, Unstoppable) a drug-taking alcoholic who after a rough night on the substances with air-hostess Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez – TV’S The League, TV’S Hart Of Dixie) ends up boarding a ill-fated jet-liner that literally breaks-up in mid-air. Despite being well under the weather Whip works frantically with his flight crew, Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty – Ass Backwards, Refuge) and Margaret Thompson (Tamara Tunie – Missed Connections, TV’S Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit) to miraculously ‘crash’ the plane in such a way that they have minimal deaths.
While the media at first labels Whip as a hero (until they start to wonder why he isn’t allowed to talk to them), behind the scenes things are very different indeed. At first it seems that Whip union representative Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood – The Place Beyond The Pines, TV’S Young Justice) is going to help him but soon Anderson realizes that this is going to turn into a defence case when it is discovered that Whip had both cocaine and alcohol in his system.
Anderson brings in lawyer, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle – Captain Planet 3, TV’S House Of Lies) to defend Whip as he heads into an investigation led by the experienced Ellen Bock (Melissa Leo – Dwegons, The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman). But while Lang and Anderson try to help Whip clean up his life before the hearing he heads into a dangerous relationship with recovering addict Nicole (Kelly Reilly – Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, TV’S Above Suspicion: Silent Scream) while drug dealer and close friend Harling Mays (John Goodman – Trouble With Curve, ParaNorman) is always lurking in the shadows.
Robert Zemeckis seems to break every rule of your typical ‘disaster’ movie. Firstly, the hero here is also the anti-hero, the audience is introduced to him in a scene that consists of full frontal nudity and drug use, he’s not your squeaky clean hero but such is the power of the script by John Gatins (Real Steel, Dreamer) no matter how dirty Whip’s life is you can’t help but want to see him come out of this hearing unscathed.
The second rule that Zemeckis breaks is that the film itself focuses around the hero rather than the disaster. The plane crash scene is nothing compared to the one in ‘Final Destination’ but that won’t let you disappointed because Zemeckis and Gatins get suspense out of this films in other ways – ways that include the audience wondering whether Whip will be able to clean up his life before the hearing and then the actual suspense as you wait for Whip’s all important answer during the hearing.
Adding to the power of ‘Flight’ is the terrific acting performances of its main cast. Denzel Washington really laps up getting the chance to play a somewhat unlikable character while Don Cheadle and Kelly Reilly are more than serviceable in their roles. John Goodman also backs up his recent good performances with a role that sees him mix comedy and drama together brilliantly.