Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: Flight, Alex Cross and Deadfall
Denzel Washington should have known that playing a character with a name like Whip Whitaker was going to be tricky. Whip, a commercial pilot, is at the center of Flight. When a flight goes horribly wrong, he saves the day and crash lands the plane. But in the aftermath of the accident, questions arise about the cause of the near-disaster. Did Whip's actions somehow cause the accident in the first place? John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Melissa Leo (one of our favorites) co-star in the drama; Robert Zemekis (Cast Away) directs.
Flight earned two Academy Award nominations - Best Actor for Washington and Best Original Screenplay for John Gatins, along with a slew of other nominations and the film made it to dozens of Top Ten lists last year. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Flight four out of four stars and called it "near flawless." We wouldn't go quite that far. It's a great cast and a solid story, but more predictable than we would have liked.
There were no special features on the DVD copy we saw.
Over the last several months, we've watched a giant shark get trapped in a grocery store after a tsunami and eat all the customers. We've seen zombies, of every destructive inclination, chew, chomp, tear and destroy the entire human race several times over. We've watched tiny chipmunks use their little bitty paws to battle big business and save the rain forest (although we still contend that chipmunks don't actually live in the rain forest). Each of those films required less suspension of disbelief than Alex Cross. Tyler Perry as a tough guy? Sorry, we just ain't buying it.
Is that love in Tyler Perry's eyes? Or is he just longing after his co-star's colorful dress?
Idris Elba, who played Luther on the BBC series of the same name and had roles on The Wire, The Office and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, was in talks to to play the Alex Cross role early on, but Tyler Perry somehow ended up with the job. We get it. Perry has built his career on Madea, a foul-mouthed, gun-totting granny with lots of gumption and just enough Jesus in her to make for a pastor-approved ending to every play/film. He wants to break out and play a man every once in a while. So here's a hint, Tyler: act manly. Or failing that, at least act interested.
Alex Cross is filled with Perry giving his co-stars long, brooding meaningless stares or chasing villains with only a tepid sense of urgency. Cross, a Detroit cop-slash-shrink, is supposed to be able to tough, smart and streetwise. He's a guy who'll do anything in the pursuit of justice. Perry plays him like a guy who'll do anything in the pursuit of being home in time for dinner.
Extras include commentary by the director, a making-of featurette and deleted scenes.
Noir fans will find something to like in Deadfall. Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde play Addison and Liza, a brother-sister criminal team that rob a casino then manage to kill a cop during their get-away. The action eventually moves to a house in the woods, inhabited by a married couple (Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson) and their just-released-from-prison adult son (Charlie Hunnam).
You're looking at the best reason to watch Deadfall - Eric Bana.
The star of the film is clearly Bana. Volatile, unpredictable and violent, Addison is dangerous to everyone around him, including, it seems, to his sister. Though Addison's a thoroughly bad guy, Bana manages to find some humanity in him, helping viewers to understand if not completely sympathize with him. The Australian actor gives a strong, captivating performance.
Extras include interviews with the cast and director, behind-the-scenes featurettes and the theatrical trailer.