Flight

Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

The Story

Flight is the story of pilot William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington).  In the opening scenes we establish that Whip is a drinker, a heavy drinker.  He arrives for his 9 am flight after having little sleep, lots of booze and a snort or two of cocaine.  Half an hour later, his plane is falling from the sky and Whip needs to pull out every trick he knows to get it on the ground without killing everyone aboard.  In the aftermath, Whip’s behavior becomes an issue as the crash is investigated.

The Verdict

Denzel Washington is absolutely outstanding in this role.   He more than earned his Oscar nomination and I think his performance is better than that of Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.  He’s an arrogant, unrepentant drunk in the middle of a terrifyingly complex situation and Washington isn’t afraid to be ugly when he needs to be and we all know the man can pull off a mean ass swagger.

The initial action sequence of the plane crash is riveting.  The special effects involved in creating that crash are seamless and electrifying.  It’s the kind of scene after which you realize you’ve been holding your breath.  It’s just that good.

The other performances – Bruce Greenwood as the pilot’s union rep, Don Cheadle as Whip’s lawyer, Kelly Reilly as a heroin addict Whip meets in the hospital – are all solid.  John Goodman provides a small amount of comic relief as Whip’s go-to man for booze and drugs.  The screenplay and direction (by Robert Zemeckis) are tight and unflinching.  The end result is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining movie.  My only small quibble is that it’s a little long – maybe 10 or 15 minutes could have been trimmed out of the second act.  But overall, terrific.  5 stars.  Buy it, rent it, SEE IT!

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