Monday, November 5, 2012


Flight, the new live-action film from Robert Zemeckis, has been on my radar for quite some time. I have a small fear of flying, and the plane crash premise intrigued me right off the bat. Plus it stars Denzel Washington, and he brings any movie instant credibility. Flight finally hit theaters this weekend, and it was a no brainer that I was going to see it, which I did with my old man.

Here’s the premise of Flight as described by IMDb: “An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.” It sounds like bit of a feel-good movie, but nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, the place crash serves as the backdrop to the real story—addiction.

The “something troubling” alluded to in the description is pilot Whip Whitaker’s alcoholism, which may or may not have played a part in the crash. Watching him explore the depths of his addiction was heartbreaking, but also mesmerizing. The juggling act Whitaker undertakes in his bid to balance his heroic deeds with his demons left me conflicted, and I loved it. Should I like this character? Am I really rooting for him to succeed or do I want him to do the right thing?

Washington played the part brilliantly, and it's one of his finest performances to date. Training Day is still tops in my book, but Flight isn’t too far behind. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he got a Best Actor nod come Oscar time.

While Washington was the star, he was surrounded by an excellent supporting cast. John Goodman, whose name has been mentioned as a possible Best Supporting Actor nominee for his part in Argo, was excellent as Harling Mays, Whitaker’s old friend and enabler; while Nadine Velazquez and Tamara Tunie made for sensible flight attendants. None of them were prominent characters, but each had a crucial role to play.

I was also blown away by Kelly Reilly, who played drug addicted Nicole. She was an unlikely love interest and was on the road to recovery while Whitaker was headed in the opposite direction. Reilly, perhaps best known for her role in the Sherlock Holmes films, was tragically graceful, and a real pleasure to watch. There’s no doubt in my mind Flight will propel her into a higher tier in Hollywood.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle as Charlie Anderson and Hugh Lang respectively. The former plays the part of Whitaker’s old friend and pilot’s union rep, while the latter is a criminal defense lawyer. Both try their best to support Whitaker, despite the difficulties, and end up becoming affected by his addiction.

The buddy: My old man getting ready to see Flight.

The plane crash scene, which serves at the film’s hook, was forceful. I fly a lot for work, and in the back of my mind I’m always worried about the plane going down. I assume a lot of people are like me in that regard. With that said, watching the scene was scary. The panic in a situation like that has to be underpinned with sheer terror, and I definitely got that feeling. When Whitaker asked one of the flight attendants her son’s name and then told her to say she loves him for the black box, well let’s just say it sent shivers down my spine.

Flight is provocative, engaging and a bit tragic as it explores addiction and how one man can deny its existence while being consumed by it. At no times was it glamorized, but showed how pervasive it is in our society, even among professionals and those we trust with out lives. There’s a big difference between what people present to the world and what’s inside, and Flight does a great job of bringing that to the big screen. Top it off with a slew of electric performances, and it makes for one of the year’s best dramas.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 89%

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1 comment:

  1. Good review Chad. Although, there are strong performances (especially really liked Kelly Reilly) and an interesting premise, it never quite finds the “story” it wants to tell. Liked it a lot, but couldn’t get to that point where I loved it.