If a recent spate of incidents has led you to believe that all air traffic controllers are asleep on the job, rest easy — some of them are watching movies instead.
The latest case of a controller treating his job like a college soph treats a night at the library comes from right here in Northeast Ohio. An unnamed controller at the Oberlin station was caught watching a DVD while he was supposed to be watching the skies. How did this lapse come to light? His mic was "inadvertently activated," meaning pilots up in the great blue could hear the movie playing in the background. A military pilot reported the incident, according to the AP.
The dereliction of duty, which is bad already, is worse, if only by a degree, because of the fella's movie choice: Cleaner, the 2007 snoozer starring Samuel L. Jackson that racked up a surprisingly high 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (What? No one had a DVD of Britney's Crossroads he could have borrowed?)
When Cleaner slipped into the Toronto Film Festival last year, festival-goers had to wonder if Harlin had made a great leap forward artistically and was ready to trade in slick pyrotechnics for arty drama. But don't let the film's highbrow cast, portentous tone, and leisurely pace fool you: Cleaner is just as empty and formulaic as his previous films, just much, much duller. The best the film can manage theme-wise is a groaningly obvious central metaphor about how Jackson's tortured conscience and tangled past can't be cleaned as easily as his crime scenes. In spite of heavyweight character actors like Jackson, Harris, Robert Forster, and Luis Guzmán, Cleaner feels unmistakably like the plodding, arbitrary introductory episode of a cop show that'd be lucky to make it past the pilot stage. Low-energy and grindingly mediocre, it adds a whole new dimension to Harlin's wildly uneven oeuvre: tedium.
The controller has been suspended, as has a manager at the Oberlin station.