Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: John Gatins
Starring: Nadine Velazquez, Denzel Washington and Carter Cabassa
After riding the 3D(isappointing) trend with films such as Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, and Beowulf for twelve years, director Robert Zemeckis finally lands on live-action turf with Flight – a character-driven drama that is as emotional as it is suspenseful. While Flight opens with a death-defying plane crash that inspires vertigo for even the most experienced flyer, the film loses its steam in a long-winded exploration of addiction, redemption, and morality that is just barely saved by the convincing, solid performance delivered by Denzel Washington.
Commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) boards a flight after a line of cocaine and a few swigs of vodka. The composure he holds, and the all-too familiar routine that Whip follows on board makes it obvious that this is no different to any other flight. But when a mechanical failure forces the plane into a nose dive, Whip is the only person who rides the disaster with confidence that is as scary as the situation itself. While Whip ultimately saves majority of the people on the flight, he wakes to the realities of his addiction as an investigation and hearing is set up in relation to evidence that shows drugs and alcohol in Whip’s blood sample.
What ensues isn’t the legal drama you would expect from such a controversial and compelling crash. Instead, it is a deeply personal and internal look at a man who is plagued by a painful history of self-loathing and denial that isn’t as easy as simply pouring bottles down the drain. The character study, however, lacks the subtlety and power that Washington carries in his performance as several forced lines and unsatisfactory conflicts with other characters draw away from the merits of acting and focus on the weakness of John Gatins’ script.
Flight is not without its moments, but when it comes to giving depth and weight to themes that have been presented multiple times in masterful films, Zemeckis’ direction is not enough to carry a script that occasionally hits a shallow level of exploration.