Robert Zemeckis has not made a movie with live action people in it since 2000, when he released Castaway - which, in case you had forgotten, was almost three hours of Tom Hanks trapped on an island with a volleyball - or - a really amazing character study with a background of survival through difficult circumstances.
- Denzel will absolutely be nominated for his performance as Whip. He portrays a functioning alcoholic who is very aware of his problem, but does not consider it a problem. You know he did an amazing job, because when I saw this movie, the theater was full - and every time his character reached for a drink - every single person in the theater groaned in dismay. This is proof that the audience wanted to be on his side, and was disappointed by him - a statement that he was doing a great job as an actor. And yes, spoiler alert - he has a 'happy' ending (meaning he finally gets some help with the drinking).
- British actress Kelly Reilly plays the heroin addict who eventually circles into Whip's existence. As I said, I could not figure out why we were seeing her story in such detail until she did encounter Whip at the hospital. She helps to ground his character, but not completely, and was very good in the movie.
- Tamara Tunie, who is often on Law and Order SVU, plays a flight attendant who is very familiar with Whip and his foibles. She plays this character just right - someone who wants to do the right thing, but is torn because of her years of loyalty and friendship. It's a minor role that is really well done.
- Bruce Greenwood plays the representative of the pilot's union who comes to visit Whip in the hospital and help guide him through the investigation as it progresses. He has been great in many things lately - he voices Batman in a few animated movies/shows (when Kevin Conroy is not), and was great as Captain Pike in J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. He is really good in this as someone who is Whip's friend, but is well aware of his troubles.
- Don Cheadle steals the scenes that he is in as the lawyer representing Whip and the pilot's union. He is cutthroat and direct, wiping out the toxicology report that shows Whip was intoxicated during the crash. He plays the role straightforward and understated.
- John Goodman is barely in this, but is so watchable and entertaining in the scenes that he is in - between this and Argo, he should get a best supporting actor nomination from one of them. He plays Whip's neighbor/friend/dealer and is the most over-the-top character in the movie, providing the only comic relief in an otherwise very heavy movie. He was also with Denzel in Fallen, and incidentally Cheadle worked with Denzel in Devil in a Blue Dress...that has nothing to do with this review - it's just an interesting bit of trivia that might come in handy at another time!
4 out of 10. Lost points for far too many close-ups of Denzel. Yes, he's good looking, but he's also 58 now, the camera doesn't need to be that close. Lost points for the excessive drinking and drug use - I know, I know, that's what the movie's about....Lost the rest of the points for Nadine being naked in the beginning - I have no interest in seeing that. Gained one point for Denzel's butt, he tried to compensate for the naked chick in the beginning, which I appreciate, but as stated...he's 58 now.
Bonus Video 1: Remember Don Cheadle on Fresh Prince of Bel Aire?