Movie Review: Flight (2013)

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Drama
Tags: , ,


Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an airline pilot with a complicated life.  He is divorced from his wife estranged from his son, and is in a sexual relationship with one of the stewardesses who he works with, Katerina Marquez. (Nadine Velasquez)  In addition, he drinks to excess and snorts cocaine, which he does on the morning of a particular flight.  He pulls the flight out of some tough weather, and then drinks while the plane is on autopilot.  The plane then starts to dive for some unknown reason and Whip Whitaker miraculously lands the plane, saving 96 of 102 people on board.  But the NTSB is doing an investigation and, and despite airline lawyer Hugh Lang’s (Don Cheadle) success in killing the toxicology report from the NTSB hearing, they still find out that there were two empty vodka bottles on the plane. Will the NTSB find out the truth about Whip’s drinking, or will a heroic act by a flawed pilot obscure the truth of his alcoholism and drug use?

I did not like Flight.  This is an example of a very good premise that goes awry, a hero pilot with very big personal flaws, must face his addictions or possibly face jail time.  This is an excellent starting point, but the movie gets so weighed down with its overwrought melodrama that it forgets to answer one of the basic questions posed in the film.  Why does Whip Whitaker drink?  In over two hours of what becomes a tedious morality play, the central question is never even addressed.  Many of the movies subplots are simply unnecessary, and add nothing to the central idea in the film.  Once again Hollywood has a strange take on religion, and the way down the plane clips a Pentecostal church, and the crash was somehow God’s will.  Instead the movie should be saying that all of us despite our many flaws are capable of heroic things, and that is through God’s grace.  The movie of course makes the co-pilot a fundamentalist Christian, whose wife’s every utterance ends with the phrase, ‘Praise Jesus.’  It’s sad that Hollywood wants to pigeonhole an entire religion as judgmental Bible thumpers , but they do. If that’s not bad enough, the ‘evidence’ that the movie hinges on is silly.  The plane is destroyed, people died, but two vodka bottles are unscathed.  Really?  Finally, this movie has an interesting take on alcohol detox, take drugs.  Not a good idea.

The acting is not great.  Denzel Washington, who I like, and think is an excellent actor, has gotten into something of a rut lately, playing a grizzled anti-hero a tough talking guy with all the answers. This take no-prisoners attitude was first and display in the movie Training Day, and it was eye-opening. Denzel could really play a bad guy with the face of a movie idol, but he played a similar role in American Gangster, Unstoppable and now Flight.  It’s time to put this character away for a while.  Don Cheadle plays a lawyer in the dullest, most uninteresting way, I’m really tired of seeing Cheadle give another lifeless, bland performance.  John Goodman was at the very least funny, but totally unnecessary . Goodman essentially serves  as Washington’s drug supplier.

Flight is very slowly paced and inexplicably long.  The director Robert Zemeckis, who made the very successful Back To the Future films and writer John Gaitains are responsible for the pacing and length of this film, a lot of editing was required to get to the essence of the film, but that was not done. The movie has nudity and numerous scenes of drug taking.  This is absolutely not a movie to watch with kids.

Flight.  Never takes off.


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