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
The flight number, 227, used in the movie is a common superstition to those flights that have crashed where the flight number digits add up to 11. A number of spectacular airline crashes also had this feature such as AA 191, the DC-10 that lost an engine in Chicago and crashed in 1979 as well as PSA 182 that nosed dived into San Diego in 1978 (where the pilots and flight attendants had been drinking and frolicking the night before as overheard by passengers who got off the same plane in Los Angeles). See more »
During the NTSB interrogation, the woman refers to the "jackscrew that articulates the horizontal stabilizer, also known as the elevator". This is a factual error. The elevator and the horizontal stabilizer are two different things. The elevator is a movable panel on the horizontal stabilizer which controls pitch and is not controlled by the jackscrew. The horizontal stabilizer adjusts the pitch trim; it is controlled by the jackscrew. In the real accident on which this failure actually occurred, Alaska Airlines flight 261, the entire horizontal stabilizer failed due to a stripped jackscrew and was frozen in a pitch-down angle far beyond its designed operating range, while the elevators remained controllable but ineffective to overcome the extreme trim angle. Thus the animation shown in the film is also erroneous. See more »
There's whole lot of people out there whose mothers die and they don't fucking drink.
You are sick, Whip.
Yeah, well, I embrace it, shit! I choose to drink.
Yes, I do.
You choose it? Well, I don't see a whole lot of choice going on here!
I choose to drink! And I blame myself! I am happy to! And you know why? Because I choose to drink! I got an ex-wife and a son I never talk to! And you know why? Because I choose to drink!
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This is a very serious movie. It deals with an issue that is probably more common than any of us who ever fly would probably care to think about - the possibility of alcoholic pilots flying under the influence. There's some potential for this to become a pretty good character study of Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) - the alcoholic pilot. But it really doesn't manage to do that. There's not much in this character to actually study, to be honest. Whip is an alcoholic pilot, who won't admit that he has a drinking problem and is basically a jerk toward anyone who tries to convince him otherwise. He's not a likable character; he's not a character you really spend very much time rooting for. You're happy at the end of the movie, when he finally makes his confession to the NTSB hearing, and I personally appreciated that at the very end, he seemed repentant and cleaned up and was looking for neither sympathy nor excuses, even as he sat in prison. But there was a lot between the beginning and the end that really didn't work all that well.
I didn't really care for the character of Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Actually, to be fair, it's wasn't that I didn't care for Nicole. My problem was that I didn't see the need for Nicole. Nicole was an alcoholic and drug addict on the road to recovery who hooked up with and started a relationship with Whip. But to what end? Reilly was fine as Nicole, but what did the character really add to the movie? I just didn't see it. I didn't much care for the union rep (Bruce Greenwood) or the union's lawyer (Don Cheadle). All they basically managed to do was reinforce stereotypes about both unions and lawyers, as they fight to get Whip off the hook, even though they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had been drinking and that he was a drunk. That's what I want out of a pilot's union and its lawyer - getting the drunk pilot back at the controls of a plane! John Goodman added some basically comic relief to the movie as Harling, a cartoonish drug-dealer friend of Whip's. I didn't care for the co-pilot (Ken Evans) and his obnoxious but surprising unemotional wife, (Bethany Anne Lind - "thank you, Jesus" repeatedly in monotonous tones) who are angry with Whip for the crash which has left the co-pilot crippled for life, but manage to get him into a prayer session. With perhaps the exception of Nicole (who was likable but who was extraneous to the story) none of them were characters I cared about. And even Whip I didn't care that much about.
I was really put off by what will surely become one of the classic ridiculous plot devices in Hollywood history, when, the night before the NTSB hearing, the union gets Whip put up in a hotel, with all the alcohol taken out of the fridge and a guard at the door to make sure he doesn't go out for a drink. Unfortunately, the door to the adjoining room (which was also unfortunately unoccupied) was unlocked, so Whip could help himself to that fridge with no one knowing and go on a binge. Please. Don't insult my intelligence by stretching things too far. That was dumb.
The best part of the movie was the portrayal of the airline crash at the beginning, as Whip becomes a hero at first for managing to crash-land the plane with only six people being killed. That was very well done, very tense and seemed realistic enough to me. After that, to be honest, this kind of fell apart. (5/10)
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