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Flight– Movie Review

Submitted by on November 4, 2012 – 9:39 pmNo Comment

Don’t be fooled by the title: Robert Zemeckis‘ new action drama could easily have been called Booze, as this is the true focus of the film. The titular doomed flight is really just a McGuffin- the thing at the center of a plot which allows the film to explore its real intentions- though it is indeed a spectacular McGuffin. But despite some great acting and tense directing, the two-hour-plus film ultimately feels like an overlong PSA about the dangers of drugs.

Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a cocky airline pilot who wakes up for a flight still drunk from the night before, and uses cocaine to perk up. But when a mechanical malfunction sends Whitaker’s plane into a catastrophic dive ultimately killing six people, Whitaker is forced to confront his drinking and drug use- even though simulations  confirm that any other pilot would have been unable to save even a single soul on board under the same conditions.

Zemeckis makes strong, even risky choices in his portrayal of Whitaker’s addiction after the crash. Whitaker’s repeated failed attempts to quit cold turkey, his abusive treatment of those that love him, and his arrogance and outright stupidity threaten to not only alienate but to simply bore the audience. It was as if Zemeckis was daring the us to keep watching, refusing  to indulge our desire to see this behavior corrected- even if some of the individual scenes veered into cliche and sentimentality.

Washington brings energy to the well-trod territory of the charming drunk in denial. He is supported by a great cast including Bruce Greenwood, Tamara Tunie, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman as an undeniably charismatic, obnoxious drug dealer.

Also, the soundtrack full of classic rock is awesome.

But in the end, the feel good vibe wins a forced victory over the real problems of the characters. Religious faith and doubt are treated poorly in broad strokes, ultimately resolved in a vague sense of predestination. Flight is more 7th Heaven on ABC Family than Intervention.

Did you see Flight? What do you think?

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