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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.
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 ***
This was the strangest movie I've seen in a while. The beginning is
?close to an hour? of some AMAZING flight crash sequence scenes. The
rest of the movie is about a man's fight with alcohol and drug abuse.
Get it on Netflix, watch the 1st hour, go to an AA meeting, come back
and watch the last 15 minutes. You won't have missed a thing! The
acting was good - but the story is advertised as being about a plane
crash, when it's more about man's struggle against himself.
The beginning scenes are supposed to depict a man with deep feelings for a stewardess - instead it looks like he's hired a hooker, so it doesn't quite jive later in the movie. More details on the reconstruction of the jet, show some of the simulator footage of what may have happened when other pilots tried to land, show NTSB reviewing the black box etc, would have kept it more in line with the advertised plot. The correct advertisement would be "An egotistical, self-centered, alcoholic, drug addict makes an amazing jet plane landing - see how he feels about that!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imagine real-life hero pilot "Sulley" Sullenberger with a severe drug and alcohol problem and doing a few lines prior to taking controls in the cockpit, yet still managing to land his packed airplane with absolute precision on the Hudson River. Would he still be a hero? That's the dilemma of the new film, "Flight," which just hit theaters this week. This is a difficult movie to sit through. Yet it's tough to decide which is more gut-wrenching -- watching a doomed airliner packed full of passengers buckled down in a nosedive headed for near-certain death, or the central character played by Denzel Washington, whose personal life is just as out of control. While Washington's character nicknamed "Whip" manages to miraculously maneuver the aircraft towards a crash landing that undoubtedly saves lives, the captain comes under increasing scrutiny once the post-crash investigation begins. Conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the investigation begins to reveal some troubling revelations about Whip and his conduct. Every second of the pilot and crew's lives are scrutinized, which uncovers some ugly secrets about how Whip spends most of his free time. Most of the time his best friends are named Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, with a few lines of cocaine to add a little spice. The hero-addict dichotomy is a marvelous dramatic device which helps to sustain a longer-than-average 2.5 hour movie. The audience faces a real conflict here. We don't know whether to cheer for Whip to beat the rap and move on with his life (after all, he heroically saved lives), or be exposed as the fraud he is so the healing and recovery process can begin. Indeed, this film is not so much about the plane crash and aftermath as it is about addiction and realizing that one has a serious problem. While the crash scene is one of the most intense such moments ever recreated on film, the film's highest moments of drama actually occurs in hotel rooms and in front of refrigerators when Whip faces his toughest choice -- whether to drink or not. Most of the time, the bottle wins the war of the inner spirit, just as it tragically so often does with real life alcoholics. If there's any doubt about Denzel Washington being one of the finest actors of our generation, this should finally settle the issue. His is a resume filled with high moments -- his Academy Award winning over-the-top portrayal of a corrupt cop in "Training Day" perhaps being his best work. But this performance is every bit as strong for entirely different reasons. Washington shows great range in this film, flip-flopping between the boozing jet-setting playboy (played to perfection) and the sad and lonely loser that deep inside he know he has become. It's Washington when he's most vulnerable that carries this film. Just the right expression at the right time, a teardrop in a rare moment when he lets his guard down, or displaying a phony facade of going through the motions while being stoned and high on the inside -- these are the virtues that only a few actors working today could so successfully give to an audience. No doubt, Washington's role here will be remembered when Best Actor nominations come out for this year's Oscars. Robert Zemickis' direction is also near-perfect. This is often a dark and depressing movie, a sort of "Leaving Las Vegas" with an airline pilot in the central sympathetic role. Yet we never get too low, even watching a man hellbent on self-destruction. Zemickis, perhaps best known for his direction of "Forrest Gump," handles the material with great care, managing an excellent supporting cast -- led by two superb roles by Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle -- who serve to change the mood just when the film seems to become too dark. There are some scenes and story lines that I found unnecessary. Whip finds a romantic interest along the way, a fellow addict. I had a hard time buying the notion that a 20-year career airline pilot would find much in common with a very plain-looking heroin addict one step up from doing back alley tricks as someone to find comfort with . The girl simply lacks any appeal. To her credit, at least she's headed in the right direction in her recovery while Whip guzzles one beer after another. But I found her not only to be implausible partner but totally unnecessary to the story -- adding at least 30 minutes to a film that probably should have capped out at two hours. The film builds to a fulfilling climax that won't be revealed here. Some ends are tied up nicely, while others remain frayed. Which is all fine -- that's how real life works. In short, this is good film made much better by the wide range of talent displayed by one of Hollywood's finest actors. Denzel Washington's performance alone is reason enough to see the film.
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