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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flight takes off with a pulse pounding opening that sets the tone for
the movie. However, Flight is not an action movie but instead is an
in-depth character study of an alcoholic. While the film itself is a
good story and an interesting analysis of one man's addiction to
alcohol, the real treasure of Flight is the superb performance from
In Flight, Denzel Washington plays a pilot who must crash land a commercial airliner to save the passengers on board. This may seem like a hero story since Washington was successful in saving the lives of the majority of the passengers. However, the results in Washington's toxicology report showed that he had a large amount of alcohol and cocaine in his system. Suddenly, this turns into a criminal investigation and Washington is faced with the difficult decision of either accepting he has a problem with drugs and alcohol or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Flight is a brilliant character study because throughout the movie you aren't quite sure whether you like Washington or not. The man is a hero but he cannot stop drinking which constantly puts himself and others in danger. The director of Flight, Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Forest Gump), successfully makes the audience care about a man that should go to prison. Even though Washington's character is constantly letting you down, you still find yourself rooting for him. A director that is able to accomplish that feeling within his audience is doing a great job at film making and character development.
It is clear that Denzel Washington devoted himself to this character. Every move that Washington made was true and you believed every action his character was doing because Washington was so convincing. This film could have been very boring. After the first half an hour there isn't much action and the story drifts from a plane crash to Washington's struggles with alcohol. This could have been disappointing but instead, the performance of Washington is mesmerizing to the point where you are completely drawn into the film. The film didn't need to continue having as much action as the first part of the film (the plane crash) because watching the development of Washington's character was so interesting.
Even though Washington steals the film, he is backed up with some very respectable supportive acting. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Ocean's Eleven) plays Washington's attorney and delivers some powerful moments in the film. Although, no one would ever expect a poor performance from Cheadle. John Goodman (Argo, The Artist) plays the comic relief in Flight. Even though Goodman is only in the film for a short amount of time, he delivers some of the best scenes in the movie.
Flight may not be as exciting as some of Denzel Washington's recent movies but it is definitely worth the money. The film is a very accurate portrayal of the struggles and despairs of being an alcoholic. With a fine director and an expert lead role along with many great supporting roles, Flight is a film that shouldn't be missed. The only minor problem with Flight is that it's a little lengthy when it doesn't need to be. Other than that, Flight is a very well made drama. A-
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flight will rank alongside The Lost Weekend, Leaving Las Vegas, etc as
one of the classic films about alcoholism. It features, in my view,
Denzel Washington's greatest performance to date. It is so easy to
overplay a drunk but extremely difficult to get it right and Denzel is
spot on and totally believable here as an alcoholic. Also, not many A
list actors would play such an unsympathetic character.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is Robert Zemeckis's decision to do what is basically a character study. However, as shown in his previous films what he brings to the table here is to ensure that as well as studying this flawed character, we have a thoroughly gripping and entertaining movie. In addition to Denzel's standout performance, all the other performances are great. John Goodman balances the drama with the right dose of humour. Go and see it, but not on board a flight!
Robert Zemeckis' latest film Flight starring Academy Award Winner
Denzel Washington is not only thoroughly entertaining and terrifically
structured, it encompasses a soul that Hollywood hasn't really
delivered in quite some time. The film, that closed the New York Film
Festival, is simply one of the best films of the year.
Flight tells the story of Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot that saves a plane and nearly all its passengers from a certain death. When an investigation is carried out to look into the details of the crash, Whip's troubling lifestyle begins to surface. Writer John Latins creates a dynamic and an internal narrative confrontation for viewers to become immersed in a story full of mental struggle. It's a unique and very engaging story that stands as one of season's best efforts.
Denzel Washington, and not to be taken lightly, is fully in the zone and portrays one of his finest screen moments in years. I haven't been this impressed with his abilities as an actor since The Hurricane (1999). He lands solidly in Whip, giving us his natural aggression, charisma, and flaws. Allowing us to travel with Whip on this journey, Mr. Washington proves once and for all, he is one of the great treasures of American cinema. Denzel gives an access root into the character for all intended purposes, a clear understanding of the inner resistance that will not only plague Whip, but the movie audience as well.
The story doesn't seem like an obvious choice for Robert Zemeckis, who has excelled in genres that have provided masterpieces like Forrest Gump (1994) and Cast Away (2000). As the film provides a more dark and jagged approach in his directorial style, Zemeckis executes with precision. It's a satisfactory effort from the director who makes his return to live action after a long string of motion-capture efforts. Assisting Washington's bravura performance is Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle, who teamed up with Denzel in the 90's classic film, Devil in a Blue Dress (1995). As the wise-cracking lawyer, whose own moral values may be tested in exchange for corporate and criminal immunity, Cheadle is a relieved presence. In a comedic and near-brilliant performance, John Goodman steals Flight from every actor including Washington in his short, two-scene appearances. Goodman continues to show an effortless range, even in poor film choices, and a confidence that makes him one of the great character actors working today. It's a performance that Oscar should consider on multiple levels. In a heartbreaking turn, Kelly Reilly as the drug-addicted Nicole, provides an emotional epicenter and boundary that stands as one of Latins' great writing achievements. Reilly is simply marvelous.
Continuing to beef up their acting resume, the great Bruce Greenwood shines while Brian Geraghty continues to prove he is one of Hollywood's best kept secrets.
Composer Alan Silvestri orchestrates an outstanding score that is both melodic and soothing. Cinematographer Don Burgess, once-nominated for Forrest Gump, gives clean, fresh camera lenses look into a shockingly dirty and gritty story. Zemeckis' handle of the astounding opening scenes, especially the plane crash, is one of the best visual and nail- biting moments of the year. Its Zemeckis at his best!
Flight is not only one of the best cinematic efforts of the New York Film Festival; it stands as a great surprise and entry into the 2012 Oscar season. Denzel Washington is completely Oscar-bound but the buck shouldn't stop there; a deserved consideration campaign should be given to John Goodman and Kelly Reilly along with screenwriter John Latins. Flight is a home-run!
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FLIGHT is a great film! In a day and age where almost all Hollywood movies try to thrill us with special effects and gore, FLIGHT 'soars' with extraordinary acting and a story that will change lives. I went not knowing really what to expect. A drama about a crashed airplane, right? Well this film is much much more. It is truth. Truth about life. Truth about addictions. Denzel Washington does an awesome, believable job as an alcoholic airplane captain, struggling with his addiction and accusations after the plane crash. John Goodman plays an interesting character and provides some laughs. Without giving too much away, I will say that if you like drama movies or Denzel, go see it. If you are, or know anyone who is struggling with an addiction of ANY KIND... go see it! It just might change your life. 9/10 A+
Denzel Washington is William "Whip" Whitaker, an alcoholic pilot who,
after a night of heavy drinking, remains drunk well into the morning he
is to fly a plane into Georgia. When his flight goes into a sudden
tail- spin, Whip manages to save all but six lives through his
crash-landing. Whip is a hero until his toxicology report comes up
positive for everything under the sun, leaving the airline, Whip's
union, his friends, and Whip in a tailspin of their own.
I have often thought that Denzel Washington is one of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen, and he proves that assertion with a film that is assured to receive him a sixth Academy Award nomination. Here is a man broken beyond measure, stumbling through his lost life until unprecedented new stress is placed upon him. Not even the intervention of those he holds close can stop his self-destructive nature - or can it?
Robert Zemeckis has been on a sturdy path with animated films recently, so it was with a bit of apprehension that I saw his most recent live- action offering since "Cast Away". But have no fear. The direction here is clean, crisp, and efficient as ever, producing a simple, but powerful script by John Gatins, chock-full of par-none supporting roles by the likes of John Goodman, Don Cheadle, and Bruce Greenwood.
Undoubtedly the best part of the film - besides the wonderful cast - was the soundtrack. Joe Cocker, Bill Withers, and more are used expertly to mold into every emotion, sometimes emotional roller coaster, Whip experiences. Each song (some used more than once) slips seamlessly into the background and keeps the audience following more than the script.
"Flight" is a powerful, dark, character study about a man who has fallen to his darkest depths, and finds out how to fall farther. It sees Denzel Washington in top form and Robert Zemeckis' triumphant return to the live screen.
Flight is the kind of movie that studio marketing departments seem to
hate. Watching the trailer, it gives the feeling of a lighter film,
dramatic, with some suspense. It does not, however, indicate that this
is an incredibly dark film about the depths and perils of addiction.
The trailer gives a completely different idea of what this movie is
going to be about, but with Denzel Washington's "Whip" Whitaker doing
cocaine about thirty seconds into the runtime, one can safely throw
away any thoughts they may have had about it.
Mr. Washington stars as Captain Whitaker, piloting a flight from Florida to Georgia; a relatively short flight, but when something goes wrong at 30,000 feet, the quick-thinking and talented Whip rolls the plane to pull it out of its dive and ends up crash-landing, saving the lives of all but six people on-board the plane. The namesake sequence of the film is probably its best, filled with amazing tension and some stellar effects.
Washington absolutely shines in this role, and being an actor of immeasurable talent, there is no question why he is up for an Academy Award for best actor. His acting is the kind of amazing that doesn't even require words- near the end of the film, his performance is absolutely heartbreaking, and Denzel Washington wears it in his face. Sadly, the rest of the film (outside of scene-stealing performances from John Goodman and James Badge Dale) isn't really up to par. The film follows Whip's self-destructive alcoholism as he is caught up in an investigation into the cause of the plane crash; friends try to help him and are spurned, he is alienated from his family, and he finds fleeting comfort in strangers such as Nicole (Kelly Reilly).
This is where the film runs into problems, however. It wastes far too much screen time developing Nicole's character only to drop her off the face of the Earth. She enters Whip's life as a common ally, someone battling her own demons and addictions, but she is seeking help. She then vanishes from it just as quickly. Her character isn't all that interesting to begin with, and the same can be said for most of the rest of the characters and the story in the film; they only serve as a backdrop, a mirror through which Whip's many, many demons are reflected.
Flight is, unfortunately, a film without much of a sense of direction. Robert Zemeckis seems to be all over the place, pouring multitudes of attention into Nicole's character, the plane crash, and Whip battling his demons, and it never seems to make up its mind as to what it's about. The film never, for a moment, questions whether Whip is actually at fault for the plane crash, and in fact it was his actions that saved many lives. Maybe it is Washington's poise and gravitas in the scene, but it never feels like Whip isn't in control. True that he is drunk and on drugs, and has many serious, serious problems, but saving the lives of ninety-six people (himself included) wasn't one of them. So while the plane crash story is certainly interesting, there's never any doubt about exactly how it is going to play out.
Flight could have been a better film if it had capitalized on the success of the tension it so well displayed early during the plane crash. Whip's story, his battles with his numerous demons- and ultimately, his freedom from them- are moving and wonderful to watch. If Zemeckis hadn't tried to shoehorn in this ridiculous investigation plot that never really merits any attention, it would have been that much better. Washington gives a five-star performance, but the rest of Flight lands at a dismal Three and a half out of Five Stars.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is easy to appreciate the high praise for one of Denzel's finest
performances, the wonderful cast, and the quality of the narrative and
storyline over the course of most of the film. This script had great
potential to produce an often compelling story, with fine characters
and direction. (I'm ignoring the fact that in everyday reality, a pilot
like Denzel's character would be impossible, since professional pilots
are subjected to regular drug and alcohol tests.) But, alas, virtually
all the reviews and reviewers are blind to the film's fatal flaw.
What so terribly wrong here?? In nearly all action films and psychological dramas, the writers and director are offered several different--often competing--conclusions, the final "hook." I watched a film that deserved an 6/7 for its entire length, until the final 15 minutes, the scene where Denzel's character breaks down in a sudden fit of moral consternation in the official inquiry. At this point, the film suddenly is transformed from a serious drama into a sloppy, moralizing MELODRAMA. What a great loss. But Hollywood will out, destroying an intrinsically dark tale by providing a redemptive "happy ending" that is utterly incredible. Of course, 90% the audiences will love this, but it doesn't change the facts.
Think: When Denzel's character's interrogator asks the big question in the hearing, the real alcoholic he's been in every scene becomes a utterly different person. He can easily avoid blaming the innocent stewardess, AND save himself, with one answer: "I don't know." And then repeating it, over and over. Exactly what a binge drinker would have done--except for Hollywood and HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars at stake at the box office!! Concluding the film with the broken pilot preaching the gospel of AA while gratefully serving his prison term is like stepping into an entirely different fantasy, one without credible linkage. Speaking as a professional writer, no one who has read great novels and fiction critically can come to any other conclusion. But this qualifier regarding familiarity with supreme fictions will exempt the vast majority of readers who usually appear on this site.
I am an aircraft mechanic, so admittedly I have trouble watching a
movie which will undoubtedly abuse reality in terms of physics and
aircraft design. I recall seeing previews for this and being stunned at
the laughable scenario of an inverted passenger plane. That experience
dropped my expectation to essentially zero.
When I watched this film I was surprised in two ways. Firstly, the scenario was more plausible than I had given it credit. Inverted flight is a problem for most planes because of aerodynamics. And while some aircraft are aerodynamically capable of inverted flight (even some passenger planes) it is additionally a problem because hydraulic and engine oil systems are often gravity fed. This means that if a plane is able to fly this way, most of them won't fly for long before systems begin to fail. The film did a reasonable job of portraying this as the plane was just barely able to sustain level flight with a full pitch down elevator position and displayed low engine oil press warnings which led to engine fire. I suspect the roll maneuver would require more altitude than the film suggests...but otherwise it's not far from what could happen in reality if this was actually attempted. Most engine fire T-handles are designed to instantly shut fuel and bleed air valves for an engine...which doesn't seem to happen here, but that was my biggest realism gripe.
My second surprise is that this movie has very little to do with aviation. Aviation seems to be the setting for the story, but the subject itself is substance abuse. The story could have just as easily been set around a bus driver or a ship captain. Given the fact that aviation was merely a setting for the story I have to give credit to the film makers for paying at least some attention to realism.
I thought the story was fascinating. It's the sort of film that requires something of the viewer. You can't watch this without making moral judgements and that process requires each viewer to evaluate how they feel about certain subjects. The story creates just enough moral dilemma to get people thinking and any story that can succeed in that gets a pass from me.
By now you know what the movie is about, so I won't rehash.
What you have here is the anti-Sully Sullenberg. Denzel is incredible as the best pilot you don't want flying your plane, or do you????? Tough questions and tough decisions as Denzel deals with, or doesn't deal with, the aftermath. You pull for him every step of the way, but the problem is which way do you pull? The visuals are very good, gripping, scary. I felt like I was hit hard in the chest while watching the plane.
Make sure the little kiddies stay home, but you need to see this movie. I hope the Academy hands Denzel the Oscar.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a commercial pilot by profession. This crash scene is based very
loosely on an Alaska Airways plane that crashed in 2000. Don't get your
hopes up: your relatives could not have survived this catastrophic
equipment failure if they'd had Whip, fueled by 3 lines of cocaine, at
the helm. The elevator jammed "full nose down" causing a descent rate
of over 13,000 fpm, not 4000 fpm as stated in the movie, (which is a
normal rate of descent for a jet). Other pilots flying by relayed to
air traffic control that they saw this plane inverted, and in a steep
nose down dive.
Let's say for the sake of the argument that the pilots had managed to slow the plane down with spoilers, gear, and flaps, like Whip did, and then flipped it on its back:
Realistically, the plane would have slowed from 13,000 fpm to 12,000 fpm and when flipped on its back the stress would have ripped off the tail.
Assuming somehow that the pilots flipping the plane upside down had managed to level it off, the instant they turned it rightside up, the plane would have nosed down and crashed. This lovely controlled glide onto a field would never have happened. Oh, and also, when a plane goes on its back THE ENGINES DO NOT CATCH ON FIRE. The engines actually flame out due to fuel starvation due to the fuel inlets being at the bottom of the fuel tanks.
After the crash scene, there are two hours of Whip being drunk while Nicole appears to have no problem remaining sober. There are also random people popping up praising Jesus.
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