The Collection

Flight: Official Review

After a few years of action/thrillers Denzel Washington returns to the type of films (American Gangster, The Great Debaters) that have made him so popular, and even won him a few Oscars. Alongside famed director Robert Zemeckis (Castaway), Denzel and a cast of seasoned actors (John Goodman, Don Cheadle) take to the skies in a raw and emotionally intense film.

With the opening scene the tone of the film is set; it's gritty and has no plans of taking it easy on the audience. Here we meet Denzel's character, Whip Whitaker; a charming, drug-abusing airline pilot. While Whip is a character brimming full of undesirable traits, he’s also an incredible pilot with charisma and moral fiber. Whip is certiantly an imaginative character, but Washington's  abilities give the character believe-ability, and somehow, you find yourself rooting for Whip.

The action of the film comes from the insanely intense crash sequence. Can't put enough emphasis on the word intense here. Zemeckis' directing abilities are on full power during these scenes. Having just woken up from a short nap - while also being drunk and high on cocaine - Captain Whitaker finds his aircraft taking a steep nose dive and must save his plane and 102 passengers. With nothing short heroic piloting - he flips the plane upside down to slow the descent - Whip manages to save all but six of the plane’s crew and passengers. It’s a tense, perfectly executed sequence. The crash ultimately serves to set up the film’s central question: Is Whip a hero or a dangerous alcoholic?

Through some cut-aways taking place during the crash sequence we also meet Nicole (Kelly Reilly), who is also experiencing a crash of her own, though her's is from a heroine overdose. By random circumstance, or an act of God as one minor character puts it, Whip and Kelly meet and become friendly. Throughout the film the two characters continually grow together and even become intimate. As they both deal with their own addictions it becomes apparent that one of them isn't ready to give up on their vices.

The central plot of the film revolves around Whip's involvement in the plane's crash. Was it pilot error or was the plane doomed to fail in the first place? The heart of the film is deeper than that, however. The film continually questions whether our lives are random happenstance or the result of divine intervention. At some points the film is too blatant with these questions and it tends to slow the film down, but this is only really an issue in one scene.

All-in-All the film delivers a wonderful story. Whip's character arc may be predictable, but it's the uniqueness of the film and Denzel Washington's delivery as Whip that make Flight such a triumph. No this isn't Denzel's best film, but it is one of the better films of 2012. Raw, emotional, and hinting at something a little deeper than your average flick, Flight soars.

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