November 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

But for a few small changes, this could have been a film for the ages; a 5 lozenger.  However, it is not.  Not that it isn’t fantastic, because it really is.  In what I think is his finest work to date, Denzel Washington gives a harrowing and naked performance as a man coming undone.  Through sheer genius, moxy and a preternatural calm, Washington’s character manages to save  almost 100 lives in the crash we’ve all seen in previews (which occurs in the first 15 minutes of the movie).  What happens to this Sully-esque hero next is what is so fascinating   Everyone gives strong performances, especially Washington and Kelly Reilly.  A Brit who is virtually unknown over here, Reilly shone as the addict who Washington connects with.  One of my favorites was a 5 minute cameo by James Badge Dale (“Lord of The Flies” and the tv show “Rubicon”) as a cancer-patient who steals the 1 scene he’s in.  All of that said, the film has its struggles.  A continuing theme about god’s plan and religious redemption was distracting and diluted the power of the primary story.  Also, the film finally lands exactly where I supposed a Hollywood film has to land; I couldn’t help but feel that a just slightly more truthful last 15 minutes would have been infinitely more powerful.  Finally, and most frustrating, the best question of the movie never gets properly explored: how do we judge a bad decision (or series of them) if they do not hurt anyone and, perhaps, even help?  We are never allowed to just sit in this beautiful ambiguity and that seems the biggest waste of all.


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