Viewed – 05 November 2013  Blu-ray

When one thinks of director Robert Zemeckis, movies like Back To The Future and Forest Gump spring to mind – not meaningful drama’s about alcoholism … but this is exactly what the celebrated director has delivered.  Breaking away from a foray into animation with the (for me at least) underwhelming A Christmas Carol, this stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot who saves the passengers of a jet after an incident, and is heralded a hero by the public and press.  However he hides the secret that he’s actually an alcoholic, who was drinking on the day of the flight – was he responsible for the incident, or should he allow his lawyers to cover things up?


Washington has always been a dependable actor, but for me he’s fallen a little out of favour with a few too many similar performances, where he always seemed to be the arrogant shouty-type who thinks he knows it all.  This however was his chance to showcase more depth with a damaged, emotional role, which thankfully has him back on form.  Co-starring Don Cheadle and a stand-out John Goodman, I found this gripping and powerful.  Washington’s character isn’t very likable, but as with alcoholics, it’s never as simple as right and wrong – and I found myself sympathising with him regardless of his often reckless actions.  Also, an on-off relationship with a heroin addict (Kelly Reilly) had echoes of Nicholas Cage drama Leaving Las Vegas, even this never quite sinks to that movie’s harrowing depths.

Zemeckis has crafted an often thought-provoking and surprising drama, very different to the feel-good movies he’s been known for, but shows he remains one of the best around.  And although subtle and not as lively as some of his other performances, Washington nailed this perfectly.  Highly recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

Eden Lake

Viewed – 16 March 2009  DVD

So this one starts out like any other run of the mill horror, where a young couple go for an idyllic weekend in a remote beauty spot, and are soon set upon by undesirables.  Now before you switch off and start reading some other website, this isn’t quite as formulaic as you might think, as this Brit set horror has the frightening prospect of teenage kids as the enemy, trashy, tough talking scum bags who at first appear as idiotic, immature kids, then something all the more terrifying when events spiral out of control.

The stand out performance here is the gutsy heroine Jenny (Kelly Reilly) who despite being a primary school teacher, soon  turns into a violent vigilante as the film nears its end, and I was completely gripped.   The young cast of hoodies are first rate and believable (I even think I’ve come across their kind at various points in my life), and especially if you are  a working class Brit, they will be all the more disturbing.  This is savage and unrelenting stuff, with some absolutely shocking violence and intense atmosphere, that will drain you right up to its shocking conclusion.

Horror movies are much nastier these days, that’s a certainty, and sometimes I wished they would just ‘let up’ on it for a moment … but no, there is no escape, and you will either love it or switch it off half-way through.  It really is that kind of movie.

Verdict:  3.5 /5