Flight’s intensity

 

Patrick Much

 

Flight (2012) tells the story of airline pilot William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington), a alcoholic and drug addict who miraculously lands a malfunctioning plane, saving 96 out of the 102 passengers. Everyone praises Whip for his actions, but he could face criminal charges due to blood test results that indicate he was intoxicated during the flight. It’s up to Whip to stay clean until the time of his hearing with the National Transportation Safety Board, which, even with the help of his friends, he finds difficult.

It’s certainly the last story I would think Robert Zemeckis would want to direct after doing A Christmas Carol (2011) and The Polar Express (2004), both of which utilized computer generated animation and were pretty tame. But it’s a surprisingly well-done story with an extremely likeable, dynamic protagonist fueled, in part, by Washington’s performance. The same also applies to the supporting cast: Whip’s old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood), Whip’s attorney Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), and Whip’s heroin addict of a love interest Nichole (Kelly Reilly), all of whom are comforting but assertive as they help Whip stay sober. Well, most of them: John Goodman as Whip’s hippie drug dealer friend doesn’t add anything besides painful comedy relief.

Despite these flaws, Flight manages to be a powerful and passionate story that gives a surprising but ultimately satisfying conclusion for Whip. And this seems to be the general consensus for the film. Michael Witman (12) praised it for its “great story” and that he “was unsure of what to expect.” But he would not recommend as a family movie “due to its strong language and drug use.”