Star rating - 6/10
If there's a plane involved in a significant way in a film, then you know there's going to be trouble. And trouble is very much in evidence in this Robert Zemeckis directed film just out on DVD. Denzel Washington puts in his usual high quality performance level as the pilot of a plane, Captain Whip Whitaker, that is involved in a terrifying accident.
But the twist in the film is that although he pulls off an amazing move to invert the plane to stop it falling from the sky so rapidly, and only lose six lives as a result, rather than the whole planeload of passengers and crew, he was drunk and high on cocaine at the time. His hero status quickly drops to zero, as he fails to cope with his addictions following the crash, and investigators quickly put two and two together.
The premise is that only someone so high on stimulants would have attempted so audacious and crazy a manoeuvre. This may well be the case, as a non pilot I don't feel qualified to comment. But the action is laboured, the twists highly signposted, and the accompanying score so invasive you can almost spot the violins behind Washington at key dramatic moments. The classic redemption themes are just a bit too obvious.
It's a shame as the set up is well done, and the white knuckle ride during the flight very scary indeed. There is good support from Kelly Reilly as a heroin addict who starts a relationship with Whip after the crash, but who walks away when his behaviour becomes intolerable even for her. And Don Cheadle is great as the lawyer trying his best to get a positive outcome for Whip, who derails him at every turn through his addictions. But it really should have been at least half an hour shorter and much sharper.