Movie Review: Flight soars

November 5th, 2012 at 12:26 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

Click HERE to watch the FLIGHT trailer.

Official movie poster for the movie Flight.

Flight  from Paramount Pictures is the story of a doomed airplane piloted by a veteran captain with a substance abuse problem.  In the plane crash at the beginning of the film, Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is mired in his demons (high and drunk), but is so cocky he can’t see the problem, and foolishly thinks the drugs and the drink are necessary in order to be normal.  Even when his ability to fly is questioned by his first-time co-pilot Ken (Brian Geraghty), Whip is cool, calm and confident.

After the crash that leaves 6 dead (including his lover), everyone agrees that those who lived did so only because of the Captain’s actions.  Hailed as a hero, Whip soon finds himself looking for companionship (and someone to party with rolled into one) which he finds in fellow hospital patient Nicole (Kelly Reilly).  Nicole is a drug addict herself, rushed to the hospital on death’s door as the actual plane crash was happening.

Whip is aided and abetted throughout the film by his long-time friend Harling (John Goodman) who is a constant supplier of this life of excess.   The only real comic relief in a serious situational drama, Goodman is fantastic!

Whip’s lawyer Hugh (Don Cheadle) and his Union Rep Charlie (Bruce Greenwood) are soon at his side preparing to fight the NTSB on accident cause.   As the investigation into the crash accelerates, so do Whip’s problems.  He fights the demons and they win over and over again.

Washington turns out an exceptional performance of internal struggle and external strife, with nuanced acting the likes of which I haven’t seen from him since Training Day.  But here, he is even more subtle and obsessive in the character.  Calm and cool, never over acting and always maintaining complete control over the character in all the right ways.  I can’t imagine Oscar nominations being announced and not hearing Denzel Washington’s name called for this role.

I was also lost in Cheadle’s and Greenwood’s characters, buying in 100% that they were there for Whip and the airline in an inner conflict for both that was big enough to drive a plane through.

That was the beauty of the writing.  Almost every character is dealing with conflict… What is right, and what is acceptable are both struggled with throughout the film. Writer John Gatins (Coach Carter, Real Steel) wrote some very interesting and layered characters, even if at times some leaned a bit heavy on the sentimental side.

And a note about the direction under Robert Zemeckis.  The plane crash scenes are among the most riveting and tension-filled disaster scenes I have ever seen.   The inside shots of passengers are just right; the anxiety builds; the external shots provide evidence of what is going on; the cockpit conversation spliced together between the calm of the captain and the calamity of the co-pilot and juxtaposed to the crash site near an outdoor Baptism taking place feet from the plane’s final resting place: It’s so well done, I don’t know what else to say about it.  The crash actually “soared”.

Is Flight perfect?  No. Is it close?  Yes.


Rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence.

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