Flight is a gripping suspense film, a friend says, about whether or not a fellow we don’t exactly admire but whom we nonetheless want to see saved or redeemed will do right by himself…or not. It’s entirely driven by character. In Leaving Las Vegas Nic Cage was fairly decisive about what he intended to do (i.e., drink himself to death), but in Flight Denzel Washington, portraying a self-destructive commercial airline pilot, teeters this way and that.

The suspense is such that my friend, who saw Flight a week and a half ago, still has scratch marks on his left arm made by his wife — her way of responding to Denzel’s predicament. Take that with a grain or not.