The First Appearance: Drunken Apathy
Clive Owen plays Theo Faron, a former activist who has become a drunken bureaucrat. Since the death of his son and subsequent divorce, he no longer cares about society. From his first introduction into the film, he carries a flask-shaped liquor bottle.
Booze starts his day because he simply doesn't care anymore. He doesn't want to feel. He doesn't want to be a part of anything. Faron is even indifferent to the reports of the world's youngest person dying at the place where he gets his coffee. And he only wants the coffee so he can add booze to it.
Finally, something to get rid of that char-burnt Starbucks taste.
The Trans-Redemptive Symbol: Compassion and Action
Later in the movie, Theo gets drawn into a resistance movement -- that he must also flee -- as he safeguards the life of perhaps the only pregnant woman on the planet. When that woman goes into labor, Theo must help deliver the child in a filthy room, and does his best to create a sanitary environment. After a quick wash, he pours out his liquor bottle to sterilize his hands.