(Robert Zemeckis, 2012)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Robert Zemeckis' return to live action filmmaking is a masterclass with standout action and drama headlined by an Oscar worthy Denzel Washington.
Oscar winning filmmaker spent the last decade solely in CGI and motion capture, directing the likes of 'The Polar Express', 'Beowulf' and 'A Christmas Carol' - three films that had the drive of his earlier works 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' and 'Back to the Future' but lacked the dramatic resonance of his Tom Hanks classics 'Castaway' and 'Forrest Gump'. With 'Flight', we are reminded just why he's such a talent.
Denzel Washington is on Oscar nominated form as Whip Whitaker, a functioning alcholic and coke addict who just about holds it together enough to pilot passenger jets. As he boards the plane he's still drunk, but Zemeckis makes that fact the least of the pilot and the audience's worries as he builds layer upon layer of suspense to finally create one of film's most terrifying air crashes (even better than his own one in 'Castaway').
It's no secret that Whitaker's actions save the flight from certain catastophy. The real juice of the story comes after this initial half an hour. While some viewers may see the the resulting drama as lesser fare compared to the nailbiting opening, this is where John Gatins' Oscar nominated script really takes off.
'Flight' makes an interesting case that Whitaker saved the passengers because he was drunk and numbed away from panic. He's a mess when he's sober, but razor sharp when he's wired. The film also examines what makes a hero as well the public's addiction for clinging on to one to a point whereby they have to know everything about him.
Then the film adds another layer whereby the airline is investigated, prompting Whitaker to try and cover his tracks to save his career, reputation and deeper secrets. It's this segment that gives Washington a real chance to shine ala Ray Milland in 'The Lost Weekend', putting in one of cinema's greatest drunk acts.
As the narrative progresses, the line between hero and villain blurs. But this isn't just an aviation thriller or an addiction drama. Really, it's a film about identity. A pilot is a label, a job title, not a man of character traits. At what point should his wings be clipped? When should he take his head out of the clouds? 'Flight' is a film that examines mechanics of emotions. When it hits, it really soars.
Check out the trailer for 'Flight' HERE at Cinemas Online
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