- Starring: Denzel Washington (Training Day), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek), and Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes) and more.
- Directed by: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future)
- Synopsis: “[Flight] tells the redemption story of “Whip” (Washington), a commercial airline pilot who pulls off a heroic feat of flying in a damaged plane, saving 98 lives on a flight carrying 106 people. While the world begs to embrace him as a true American Hero, the every man struggles with this label as he is forced to hold up to the scrutiny of an investigation that brings into question his behavior the night before the doomed flight.” (-Collider)
- Rated: Rated R for language, drug/alcohol use, nudity/sexual content and intense violence.
First off, let me tell you that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie given Denzel’s latest performances (Safe House, Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 123) along with Director Robert Zemeckis’ recent cinematic endeavors (Mars Needs Moms, A Christmas Carol 3D, Beowolf). I was hoping for Denzel, who is one of my favorite actors, to deliver in a movie that has his familiar signature yet that also ends up being new and captivating. At the end of the film, let’s just say I was glad that I chose to watch the early preview of Flight instead of Man with the Iron Fists as Flight soared far beyond my expectations.
If you have an intense fear about flying, you may want to reconsider watching this movie as the first 20 minutes or so take us right into the events of the turbulent and violent crashlanding that is the subject of investigation throughout the remainder of the movie. (That didn’t shock me too much, but the opening lingering scene of a completely naked woman in a hotel room actually did). Zemeckis’ first live-action film since Castaway seeks to distance itself from his previous works and it does so in the same fashion.
People who see Flight will remember it for sure. From the stellar cast that performs greatly in the roles given to the intense scenes of the crash and the subsequent investigative hearing, Flight had me pretty tied in to my seat during the crazy ride. Yes, Flight is about the downed flight that Whip (Denzel) happened to navigate to the ground with minimal loss of life, but it is also about two other different types of flights: Flight from responsibility and reality.
This story focuses so much on the character Whip (Denzel) who is a divorcee and estranged father, a confident pilot, and a man with a big problem with alcoholism. Denzel truly did an excellent job in showing the deception and hardship that addiction brings. Gasps left my mouth seeing the amount of empty bottles in numerous scenes with Denzel as I continued to hope for his character’s victory over the bottle. He accomplished something that I hadn’t felt from a Denzel movie since Training Day and American Gangster…I found myself angry at his character and I was glad I could feel that way about Washington in a film (if that makes sense, as opposed to his usual and typical characters). The movie shows Whip’s flight from responsibility as he shifts blame everywhere but to himself once investigations begin searching for a target for their fingerpointing. It also deals with his flight from reality as he, in true addict form, is the only one who doesn’t see (or doesn’t choose to see) his true condition and problem with alcohol.
Whip gets pretty low and I cannot speak highly enough of Denzel’s amazing performance. He gets the point across in a manner that everyone can relate to and understand. The overconfidence, the lying, the self-destruction, the facade, the blaming of others…everything. His character stooped so very low, and we’re there to watch the downward spiral every step of the way. Washington’s performance is definitely a far flight away from his recent mediocre films. Not only does Washington deserve laud (although he does deserve the most of it), but kudos to the rest of the cast that is not to be overlooked which includes the talent of Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Law & Order‘s Tamara Tunie, and more. Each of them, and I do mean EACH of them, are amazing in their respective roles.
Playing out much like a flight, Denzel’s movie is most intense/memorable at the beginning and at the end. It takes off and grabs the attention right away. the middle is captivating as well in a different manner and though it goes through a few bumps along the ride it establishes more about the characters and their developments (or lack thereof). When the ending comes in for the landing everyone is on edge and at attention with their seats in the upright position wondering just how it will end. Does the probing investigation that hopes to link his alcoholism to the events of the crash convict him? Does he succeed in covering up his problem and getting away with it? Does he drink himself to death?
I don’t think I barely even breathed at all during the beginning and ending sequences. The eerie silence in both really drove home what was happening, and the cinematography worked to its desired result. Ooh man, what a ride Flight is! Do I hear “Oscar nomination”?
Go see Flight, and when you do, follow Samuel L. Jackson’s advice:
Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars for Flight
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Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
up next: “Movie News Monday”