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Flight Denzel Washington, with Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman

Flight: an alcoholic / coke-addict pilot saves almost everyone on board from certain death, but he can’t avoid the spotlight as the air crash investigation picks up on his habits. This is a great all-round movie: funny when it had to be (Goodman / cancer guy), dramatic at times (relationship / hearing) and for the most part, engaging and entertaining. The crash itself is one of the most intense and dramatic scenes I’ve seen in a cinema; slowly getting louder and shakier and an increasingly high-pitched whaling from the plane; it was like a screw turning tighter and tighter. The only time it felt a bit off were several overly-emphasised parts about religion & faith – act of god, miracles, praying – although I guess it’s more prevalent in America. There were a few nice little in-jokes that almost passed me by: the ShamWow tv advert, the elevator music version of ‘I’ll get high with a little help from my friends’, and most songs in the soundtrack were about boozing or drug abuse. The cast were stupendously good performances all round, Denzel in particular was on fire – achieving an almost impossible mix of sympathy and resentability – and Kelly Reilly (also great) must have had a cleavage-based contract – loved it. All in all, Flight is an entertaining, enjoyable, and very watchable movie with entertaining performances all round.

Score: 8/10

The Guard: An odd Irish policeman teams up with an FBI agent to stop a major shipment of drugs. As the main character, Gleeson steals every scene and the entire show with his portrayal of an offbeat copper that switches between brilliance and insanity so often and effortlessly that you never know if he’s playing it straight or dumb. There’s a lot of other memorable characters woven through the story like Mark Strong’s disillusioned drug trafficker, both other bad guys, the elderly mother and rookie partner. The humour’s blacker than black, and drier than a bucket of sand – not for everyone, but for me it was fantastic, easily one of the funniest films I’ve seen so far this year. The story’s good, and keeps going through to the very last scene. The Guard is funny, sweary, a little surreal but very entertaining.

Score: 8/10

Traitor: An Ex U.S. Military bomb expert gets entangled with some Islamic radicals and ends up in a terror plot. I hadn’t even heard of this as it probably got swamped under by the glut of newfangled middle-eastern war & drama flicks. This begins in Yemen and the first 30 minutes is dedicated to unraveling the enigmatic main character – pretty much the crux of the whole film. After a short ‘Arabs in Jail’ section the pot focuses on acts of terrorism in France and America. Other than some heightened drama towards the end the film juggles the old civil liberties Vs greater good dilemma, what it is to be a Muslim following the Qur’an today, and painting an accurate picture of terrorist activities in the Western world. Don Cheadle holds his own well as the only main but really just has to look solemn or the most part. Guy Pearce could have been anyone, playing the stereotypical “hot on the heels” cop. Ditto Jeff Daniels in his role. The film looks pretty good and has a few memorable scenes but just doesn’t really grab you; how do you connect with a guy who’s BFF is an extremist and is plotting to kill innocent people? Hyper topical terrorist thriller that you should only check out if you like this type of film.

Score: 4/10