Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 21:11
“Flight” is a movie that takes off from the beginning and continues to capture the audiences’ attentions until the end. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away” and “Back to the Future”), “Flight” is captivating because of Denzel Washington’s strong performance as a coke-snorting, booze-drinking playboy airline pilot named Whip Whitaker. These unhealthy habits lead to the premise of the film’s plot, as Whitaker clearly pilots his plane under the influence.
When the plane malfunctions, Whitaker’s expertise at flying kicks in and he performs a few tricks to save most of the crew onboard right in the nick of time. Whitaker is now a hero. Or is he? That is exactly what Zemeckis implores the audience to think about throughout this emotionally-charged character study.
“Flight” firmly addresses the potential struggle, addiction and pain of alcoholism. Because of his alcoholism, Whitaker faces jail time, is divorced from his wife and estranged from his only son. Whitaker tries to stop drinking on his own but can’t, and even after his lawyer asks him to stop drinking, he cannot. His good friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) eventually forces him to stop drinking and he remains sober for nine days until caves again. It takes all of this for Whitaker to finally realize he has a problem. Denzel Washington kills it in one of his best performances to date. He plays an alcoholic so convincingly the audience can almost smell the booze on his breath.
However, any good movie is not good without its humor. This is where Whitaker’s drug dealer, Harling Mays, (an outstanding John Goodman) comes in. Mays is not just any drug dealer, though. He brings Whitaker naughty magazines and alcohol in his hospital bed as a funny, but sincere way of showing his care. Later in the movie, Mays brings Whitaker more cocaine to help cure his hangover right before an important meeting with government moguls who could throw him in jail. If that wasn’t enough, the false sense of professionalism that Mays casts on himself had the audience laughing out loud.
Zemeckis crafts a compelling and wildly entertaining movie with “Flight.” He does an extraordinary job portraying Whitaker in a neutral sense. Is he the good guy or the bad guy? Just when the audience thinks he’s a careless, negligent person who deserves to rot in prison, Whitaker proves he’s actually a man trying to desperately escape his demons and it is this complex character study that makes the film so alluring.