A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
What is Flight? Is it a tough-minded look into the dangers of making heroes out of men who do amazing things? (Denzel Washington, an airline pilot who pulls off a miracle landing in a malfunctioning plane, but oh dear, it turns out he was drunk and high while he did it.) Or is it a searing attack on the inhuman world of corporate legal maneuvering, where certain lives count less than others and the main thing is to pass the buck? (Don Cheadle almost steals the show from the paunchy Washington as the oily Chicago lawyer hired to defend him during the ensuing investigation.) Or is it a raised-stakes addiction movie? (Washington has a shattered family, drinks like a fish, and hooks up with a recovery-minded heroin addict.) Surprise, it's none of the above! This here is a religious picture; you get your first tip when Washington's co-pilot cries out to God in a moment of panic, and Denzel coolly replies, "He can't help you here." God is a little like Chekhov's gun that way - you can't introduce Him at the outset, and then have Him not show up by the end. Director Robert Zemeckis does his best to hide the providential machinery, though - making sure that Cheadle's attempt to get "act of God" added to the list of accident causes is a thoroughly cynical move, that a prophet who proclaims God's hand in everything is a cancer patient suffering from "chemo-head," and that a husband who does the same is backed by a wife bleating out "Bless Jesus!" like a madwoman. Alas, Zemeckis can't keep himself from playing the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" when vice-peddler John Goodman comes on the scene. And that sort of indulgence plagues the picture, or rather, bloats it. 2012.