IT’S hard to think of any other movie that starts so brilliantly and tails off quite so catastrophically as Flight.
For it about 30 minutes this Robert Zemeckis-directed film about a high-functioning alcoholic airline pilot (Denzel Washington) who manages to land a malfunctioning plane with minimum loss of life is mainstream filmmaking at its very best, full as it is of thrilling, edge-of-your-seat tension and Washington in charismatic, rule-flouting maverick mode. And then the plane crashes and, as if on cue, the film does too – right into a sanctimonious, baby-brained Hollywood redemption story. For the remaining 110 minutes, excitement gives way to creaky melodrama as Washington’s character – lawsuit-fearing employer on one side, hungry-for-a-story reporters on the other – is forced to confront things about himself he’d rather not. In some respects, it should be a perfect showcase for Washington’s talents, but Zemeckis can’t resist the opportunity to have his character run through every addiction trope in the book and too often the film bludgeons us with therapy speak, ill-judged supporting characters and groan-inducing soundtrack cues. What begins as brilliant entertainment turns into a crybaby piece of awards bait.
Bullet to the Head
Entertainment One, £16.99
Now that The Expendables has provided Sylvester Stallone with another vaguely successful franchise beyond the Rocky and Rambo films, he seems to be getting another crack at making the kind of terrible action movie that has traditionally exposed his inability to engage with audiences outside of his franchise roles. Exhibit A? Bullet to the Head, a deadening graphic novel adaptation destined for the scrapheap of past Stallone clunkers. That the film also marks the return of director Walter Hill after an 11-year hiatus is even more depressing, particularly since some of the film’s early action scenes have the kind of old-school brutality one might expect from the director of The Warriors, Southern Comfort and Extreme Prejudice. Sadly, Hill seems intent on recycling gags and mismatched buddy routines from 48 Hours and Red Heat as Stallone’s double-crossed, ridiculously named hitman Jimmy Bobo teams up with a Korean-American detective (Sung Kang) to bring down a corrupt a real-estate developer. Even watched in an indulgent frame of mind, this is retrograde rubbish.
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