The trailer for this film was pretty spot on, not at all mis-leading unlike the Plot synopsis from IMDB; “An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.” Having just come back from watching Flight I can tell you the plot is a little more something like this… ‘An unavoidable crash puts a heroic pilot in the spot light and forces him to acknowledge his alcoholism and drug abuse issues’. Something else that bugged me about IMDB’s review… “Flight takes off with a pulse pounding opening that sets the tone for the movie.” Well actually the film is pretty sombre from then on, so what you mean is exactly the opposite of that. BUT enough of that, let’s talk about the film!
First off, a round of applause for Nadine Velaquez for getting totally butt naked and looking smokin’. Does that woman age?! Also really glad she’s done a big Hollywood film, I love her in My Name is Earl and The League. This was pretty much the first thing you see in Flight, and I have no idea what the conversation Denzel was having on the phone at the time but it was a pretty clear picture of their relationship. It also quickly established that Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) was not really a stand up guy – booze, drugs (pretty sure I saw a spliff but it did quickly turn into a cigarette), and casual sex, all before getting suited and booted to fly a commercial airline. Grrrreat!
So we know from the off that this man is not fit to fly a plane… the crew know it too, but he’s been doing it so long he is well trusted by those that know him. HOWEVER when the plane goes down, it is clear that the man’s ability to fly a plane surpasses other pilots and whether or not it’s ‘an act of God’ Whip crashes the plane in such a way as to save the majority of passengers, where others would not be able. These scenes are brilliantly done. I was very tense even though I knew the outcome from the trailers, but I was on the journey with the people trying to land the plane – and the sense of relief when the plane started to glide just for a few seconds was smashed by the impact of the ground just as it was for the characters. It was so engaging and what was great was the acting – I already cared about these people even though the film had barely started. How’d they do that?!
The moral dilemma in the aftermath of the crash is whether Whip deserves to be punished. Yes he was loaded when he was flying the plane – but this did not effect the planes malfunction, and if it were a different pilot the plane would have still gone down but there would have been no survivors. Luckily for Whip, there are people that want to help him. Bruce Greenwood plays Charlie, an old friend of Whip’s who endeavours to fight his corner, accompanied by lawyer Hugh Lang played by Don Cheadle. These two actually made a pretty good double act. Cheadle played a ruthless lawyer who even manages to get the investigation team to add ‘act of God’ on to their possible reasons for the crash (erm, what?!). And the brilliant John Goodman dips in and out as Whip’s go-to guy, Harling Mays. Who by the way has a fantastic role which maybe should have been utilised more in the story – however I can see why he wasn’t in it more as his character was comedic and light which would have taken the serious edge away from the story line.
Kelly Reilly plays Nicole, a struggling drug addict who is trying desperately to stay clean after one too many hits puts her in the hospital. To be honest I couldn’t remember her being in Sherlock Holmes and can’t recall anything that I have seen her in before but I hope this performance will put her on the Hollywood map a little more. She was very endearing and plays a really soulful character in Flight. Plus she is an unsuspecting stunner, but has piercingly sad eyes that say ‘help me’. Unfortunately though, Nicole and Whip’s co-dependant relationship is destined to fail and there is no way around it. It highlights the devastating effects of addiction on those around you, and how strong the feeling is to get free from that addiction, even if it means sacrifice.
Whip’s addictions are up and down through out the film. As has been said by other reviewers, Flight is not a disaster movie, it is an depth character study of Denzel’s character William ‘Whip’ Whitaker and his struggle in coming to terms with his alcoholism. We see his denial cause destructive behaviour that tore his family apart and estranged his teenage son. Also endangering himself as he faces life in prison if he were to be found guilty of man-slaughter for the plane crash. Cheadle and Greenwood try desperately to help him out the situation and grant him his freedom, but Whip seems on a mission to destroy himself. Washington obviously threw himself into this role whole heartedly. I don’t usually rate him too much when he plays the sultry hero, but his portrayal of a man becoming more and more vulnerable as he descends into addiction is fantastically done. The role is gritty, its not Hollywood drugs and rock and roll, its real life – addiction ‘sucks cock to get high’, and that’s not cool.
As far as Robert Zemeckis is concerned he should pat himself on the back. A really well made piece of film with some great shots including great direction for the plane crash, and a scene that will stick in my head for a long time – the bottle on the mini-fridge, I wont say any more. Also did any one notice the song playing in the lift on the way down to Whip’s hearing? Nice and subtle.
My only problem with this film was the moral dilemma going on in my head… Did I want to see him punished after he had saved all those lives? Should he be able to walk free as a hero even though he betrayed the public’s trust and the law by piloting a commercial jet under the influence of narcotics? Would he seek help and clean himself up if he was allowed to walk free? I couldn’t decide what the right thing was to do… luckily I was satisfied with the ending. Were you?
Tagged: alcoholism, blog, bruce greenwood, cinema, critic, denzel washington, don cheadle, film, films, flight, john goodman, kelly reilly, movie, nadine velaquez, plane crash, review, robert zemeckis