Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
Whip Whitaker is a commuter airline pilot. While on a flight from Orlando to Atlanta something goes wrong and the plane starts to fly erratically. With little choice Whip crashes the plane and saves almost all on board. When he wakes up in the hospital, his friend from the airline union introduces him to a lawyer who tells him there's a chance he could face criminal charges because his blood test reveals that he is intoxicated with alcohol and cocaine. He denies being impaired, so while an investigation is underway, he is told to keep his act together. However, letting go of his addiction is not as easy as it seems... Written by
An interesting film, but I can't help but feel that this film could have been a lot better than it actually is
Denzel Washington plays Captain Whip Whitaker who wakes up one morning to make a seemingly routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta. During the course of the flight the plane malfunctions and Whitaker is forced to make an emergency landing. Following the crash, Whitaker is initially hailed a hero due to the fact that he managed to save the lives of 96 people out of the 102 people that were onboard. However, when toxicology reports are carried out, traces of alcohol and drugs are found in Whitaker's system and once the NTSB get wind of this they assume that the reason for the crash was down to the fact that Whitaker was 'impaired' when he boarded. However, Whitaker maintains that the reason the plane crashed was down to the fact that it was 'faulty'. With the help of his friend Charlie (Bruce Greenwood) and defence attorney Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), Whitaker sets about proving that the crash was down to a defect with the aircraft rather than human error. Will he be successful in proving his innocence?
I think the main problem with Flight is that it fails to develop its central character Whip Whitaker. We quickly learn at the start of the film that he's an alcoholic, but this issue isn't really explored. We can assume that it's probably something to do with the strained relations between his estranged wife and his kid, but again this is only an assumption. I think if we'd have got a bit more of a back story for Whitaker (what triggered his alcoholism, where he went wrong as a father, why he's obnoxious and arrogant). Even if it was only a 5-10 minute segment just to understand his character a little bit more. Whilst it's clear that Whitaker isn't a likable person, I also didn't particularly hate him because I couldn't understand why he was the way he was. I found myself almost indifferent to his character which is a failing as more often than not it makes me indifferent to the film as a result. The character of Nicole (Kelly Reilly)strikes up a friendship with Whitaker and they almost become kindred spirits as they are both affected by alcoholism - again her character was quite poorly written, but unlike Whitaker she was, at least, fairly likable.
Another problem with this film is that it's almost impossible to sympathise with the main character; He willingly boarded an aircraft knowing that he'd had no sleep and was pumped full of drugs and alcohol and he knowingly risked the lives of all his passengers - yes I'm aware this is a plot device for the entire film, but it does make it difficult to root for Whitaker (especially when we learn how selfish he is throughout the film).
There are other things that stretch credibility such as Whitaker being able to crash-land a plane and save 96 lives out of 102 whilst he's under the influence of alcohol/drugs and had no sleep the night before, yet 10 other fully trained pilots crashed their planes and ended up killing everyone on board in a simulated recreation of the event whilst they were stone cold sober. That for me was just ridiculous. Whitaker's representative Charlie Greenwood knew that Whitaker was a heavy drinker prior to the plane crash, but yet he still allowed him to fly. Come on!!! Are we supposed to believe that this would happen in the real world?
There are positives to this film and despite all my objections above, this is a very interesting film and I suspect anyone who is a fan of stuff like 'Air Crash Investigation' will more than likely enjoy the film. Washington put in a stellar performance (one of his best in years) and he does his best with a rather poorly written character. John Goodman was excellent in a minor role as Whitaker's friend Harling Mays. I think Goodman is a fantastic actor and has so much energy and does manage to breathe some life into this film whenever he was on screen. The direction and cinematography were also impressive.
Flight is an interesting film rather than a great film. It's main failing is that it doesn't develop Whitaker's character and because we learn next to nothing about him, it made it hard for me to understand his character and ultimately meant that I couldn't make an emotional connection. It's worth watching for the interesting subject matter, but I can't help but wonder what could have been with better writing and better character development.
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