Denzel Washington has fought like hell against the Sidney Poitier syndrome; for every movie in which he’s played Mr. Noble (Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters), there are more in which he’s played a heel (Philadelphia, Training Day, American Gangster). In this entertaining drama from Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), Washington is a veteran airline pilot hailed as a hero after his infallible instincts and steely nerves enable him to rescue a nosediving 727 seconds before impact. The only problem is, his hospital blood work reveals the coke he snorted for breakfast and the vodka he was slugging just after takeoff. As the FAA closes in on him and the airline conspires to protect itself, the addicted hero follows the same arc as his plane—steeply downward. To Zemeckis’s credit, you’re never really sure whether the guy is going to level off this time or not. With Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, and a nice cameo by Melissa Leo.
R • 2 hours 18 min • 2012