“Nobody could have landed that plane like I did”
The only film(s) that I can link to Robert Zemeckis are Back to the Future I, II & III so I haven’t really got a lot to compare Flight to in that respect and the films could not differ more from the light fun atmosphere created in the classic trilogy to the rather more serious and frustrating tone constructed here. Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker an alcoholic pilot who crash lands an otherwise doomed aircraft saving everyone but 6 people on the flight from an almost certain death. The plot revolves around what caused the crash, was it Whip himself? Or another factor to do with the mechanics of the plane? Flight is a slow building drama that hits its peak very early on in a scene that is highly promoted in the trailers but also has moments of raw drama as well as humour throughout before fizzling out a little too far before the post.
Washington, as you might well expect is fantastic in the role and there’s something about him and his character that you can’t quite keep your eyes off of in the film. It’s not something that hasn’t been done before, a drunkard lead, but the interesting factor comes when you can’t decide whether you like him or not. On the one side you admittedly feel sorry for him, he is a broken man who has obviously lost everything to alcohol abuse and this is mirrored by the character of Nicole (Kelly Reilly), a recovering heroin addict the difference is her character is looking to be saved and helped and so progresses whereas Whip chooses a different path persuading everyone including himself that he is in control.
The addiction itself proves humorous in various scenes and the character of Hugh the defence lawyer for Whip (Don Cheadle) bounces off of Washington well again proving to be some of the most interesting scenes. The very fact Whip’s addiction is frustrating to watch is probably half the attraction to this film especially in its closing scenes (when they finally come) and you think he has finally recovered somewhat we find him in a rather disgusting state and that’s when his aid starts to go a little twisted even though their hearts are in the right places.
In parts the film looks nice but the real standout moment takes place in the 20-minute sequence on board the flight. It really is edge of the seat stuff and it’s a shame the rest of the film drags and ends rather predictably in one sense or another. The crash and the roll in the air are both done well and look and feel believable to the extent I ended up just not wanting to ever go on a plane ever again, I didn’t like them in the first place.
It is an average Hollywood outing with a rather special sequence I found to be one of the most tense rides in recent films but apart from that one sequence there isn’t much to comment on. Washington does well in the role but needed to be 40-minutes shorter.