A Movie Review on Flight (2012)
Flight is the first live-action film for director Robert Zemeckis since Cast Away was released 12 years ago. It's also his best film since Cast Away. The film follows William "Whip" Whitaker, an airline pilot who pulls off a miraculous mid-air stunt to save the lives of the passengers on board. Although no one else would have been able to land the plane the way he did, he was drunk and high on cocaine while flying the plane. The rest of the movie follows the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the planes malfunction, and landing. We are taken deeper and deeper into Whip's alcohol abuse and addiction, as the investigation gets more involved.
The strongest point of the movie is the performance given to us by Denzel Washington. Denzel is great in everything that he does, but here he delivers one of the best performances of his career. He really delivers a strong, emotional performance as a man in complete denial of his alcohol addiction. It hurts his friendships, his relationships, and his chances of getting the criminal side of the flights investigation off his back. You'll be left with feeling of sympathy and pity for Whip as his friends try to steer him clean, but he continues to drink himself into a stupor. The introduction of a female he meets at the hospital, who is a recovering heroin addict trying to get her life back together, gives us a opposing performance of someone who was an addict, but is now trying to put their life back together. As we see Nicole staying clean, movie out of her apartment, finally getting a job, and being genuinely happy, Whip counters that with continued descent into alcoholism, as he strains the relationship between him and Nicole and the people who are trying to help him.
The rest of the performances are great as well, with John Goodman playing Whips close friend who gives a hilariously exciting performance. It's quiet a shame that his character is not seen more than a couple of times throughout the 2 hour plus film. Don Cheadle is great as his lawyer who is trying his hardest to save Whip from the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), and Bruce Greenwood does an equally good job as an old friend of Whip, as well as a representative of the pilots union who is also trying to save Whip from the NTSB. Kelly Reilly is wonderful as Nicole, the girl Whip meets at the hospital, who struggles with heroin addiction early in the film. She does a great job portraying an addict turned recovering addict, and counters Whips downfall through alcohol abuse through her attempts to get her life in order. The movie is a character driven film, that without these great actors would not the movie it is.
Zemeckis really knows his way around special effects, with his last three films all being motion capture animation films. The entire opening sequence involving the plane is done so well you'd think they used a real plane to shoot the scenes with. It's intense, emotional, and feels quite real. It's made me just a bit more nervous to ever have to get on a plane again. As with almost all character driven movies the script must be done well, and here writer John Gatins give us a damn good script, and story to watch unfold. The characters all seem believable, and Whip's struggle with alcohol is both moving, and hard to watch. Those who have had first hand experience with alcohol abuse and addiction will find this film to be very close to home.
What I didn't like about the film is how the relationship between Whip and Nicole is handled. Early on it's done well, but as the film progress towards the end she seems to lose importance in the movie, and by the end it feels like the almost forgot all about her. There is no real pay off or closure for their relationship. We do get an idea of where things stand between them, but it would have been nice to see her make an appearance in the films final 15 or so minutes. The other thing I didn't like was the length of the film and pacing. After the very intense, very exciting opening sequence involving the plane, things come to a halt, and it becomes a very character driven movie. This isn't a bad thing, but the film does tend to drag a little bit in the middle. It might have been better if they shaved off a bit of the movies run time as it runs nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes long.
Flight is an extremely moving, emotional film that features one of Denzel Washington's best performances of his long, well respected career. His alcohol abuse in the film is so sad to see because its something that millions of people deal with each and every day. The movie will definitely strike a chord with those who have been directly affected by alcohol abuse. Zemeckis delivers another superb film.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Reilly, Tamara Tunie, Brian Geraghty, and Nadine Velazquez
Rated R. Runtime: 139 Minutes.