FlightAs you are presented in the opening scene with an older, hungover, yet still legendary Denzel Washington (Whip Whitaker),who has just slept with a visibly nude, attractive young lady named Katerina, you begin to realise that the title of this film, and the trailer for that matter, is not exactly representative of the entire plot that is about to unfold. Having said that, this is not a movie that is ever likely to find itself being featured on the in-flight entertainment of any airlines around the world, unless they have disturbingly witty owners who would find showing passengers a realistic air disaster to be an ironic barrel of laughs.

Whip is an alcoholic pilot who dabbles with a concoction of booze and cocaine prior to his morning flight, an ideal preparation to flying a couple of hundred people across the country. Set in America, the issue of plane crashes is a touchy subject but director Robert Zemeckis delivers it in a unique way. As Whip’s plane battles through intense turbulence that evokes an unnerving realism we are presented with a crash landing situation. Only a small percentage of the passengers and crew die due to the heroics of Whip, albeit it drunk, as he manages to perform a miraculous maneuver to prevent a complete disaster. He wakes up in hospital to the knowledge that he is a hero but once he is informed by his friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) that he is going to be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, as is procedure, Whip becomes caught in between two worlds; the one formed by the media of the American hero and the one of the inconsiderate alcoholic who endangered people’s lives. Everyone attempts to help him come out on the side of perceived good, everyone that is except for Whip himself.

Flight is a moral journey between right and wrong, toeing the line between emotional and humorous qualities (That last one might sound strange given the plot outline). The comic appearances of Whip’s drug dealer Harling Mays, played by John Goodman, adds a hilarious change in tone when the narrative is taking a turn for the melancholy. When Whip learns that Katerina, who was an air hostess aboard his plane, has died in the crash he does not know how to feel. She was the only one who knew for sure that he was drinking and doing drugs the night before so in a callous way he is not upset about her death. He has a chance to blame missing alcohol on her that was noticed after the stock was checked and this becomes the climax of the drama. There is also, of course, a bit of romance when Whip meets a recovering drug addict, Nicole (Kelly Reilly) in the hospital and begins to see her as his savior from the chaos that surrounds him. She lends a voice of reason to Whip as even his antics are too much to handle for her, a woman who enjoyed shooting heroin from needles.

It must be said that Flight will not be up there in terms of cultural significance with other films directed by Zemeckis such as the Back to the Future trilogy and Forrest Gump but is in many ways similar to his 2000 epic, Cast Away. The journey of one man’s struggle to find himself after surviving a plane crash, marooned on an island with only himself for company. Whip is indeed trapped in his own isolated existence  after his crash with many people not knowing his true self as he spends the majority of his time in a desolate farm away from society. Denzel Washington succeeds in reminding us that he hasn’t lost his ability to capture an audiences attention for the entire length of a movie while showing us just why he is so revered by both fans and professionals alike. He received an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role just like Tom Hanks did for his role in Cast Away, and also similar will more than likely be him not winning the award for it. This is mainly due to the competition i.e. Daniel Day Lewis.

What is true is that this is an enjoyable watch, nothing that will blow your mind but more than just an activity to pass the time. For those of you who do not enjoy being put through a plane crash simulation you needn’t worry, this event lasts merely the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film, the rest is the Denzel Washington show!

My Rating: 7/10

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