Saturday, November 3, 2012


Plot: Pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington)  was partying with stewardess Katerina (Nadine Velazquez,) using drugs and drinking all night until dawn, and then flies an early morning flight though a storm. He lands the plane successfully after great heroics in a farm field. After the plane lands, his blood test results show alcohol and cocaine. Katerina dies in the crash, and soon The crash occurred because of a mechanical defect in the plane, but Whip is in danger of going to prison anyway.  He meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly) in the hospital, and she moves in with him. Whip battles drinking and internal demons. Nicole dries out and goes to AA meetings.

Bruce Greenwood plays a pilot's union advocate, and Don Cheadle plays a union attorney. John Goodman plays an over-the-top drug dealer who gets Whip cocaine and enables his other vices. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Flight is a straight-up drama about fairly well-drawn characters managing their problems. It is a message movie, but the anti-alcoholism message does not get in the way of the story at all. 

The action scene on the plane is dramatic, and demonstrates the deep personal problems that Whip has. It is fun to watch, and sets up the drama that follows. The plane scenes are relatively short. The final scenes are surprisingly suspenseful. 

Flight has a strange balance of gritty reality and unlikely larger-than-life events. We have the unlikely flight crash story coupled with Whip's substance abuse problems and relationship problems -- and the gritty world that Nicole inhabits. IMHO Whip never seems real, I don't believe at 0.26% blood alcohol he could have flown the plane so well in that emergency. I don't understand how someone can exist in a gritty cigarettes, drugs and drunken world, hold it together at work, and later successfully evade CNN and the paparazzi . 

Because the Whip character is not well-drawn, I don't blame Denzel for not handling it well. Several supporting actors were strong including Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle. John Goodmas stole every scene he was in. 

The crash scene was well photographed -- very realistic. The music is mostly R&B oldies, but a few were well chosen and fun to listen to. (There is no soundtrack album however.)

Cast: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Kelly Reilly

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Rating:  2.5 stars: always interesting, and it has a message. 
More: The films starts out with a lengthy nude scene that seems to be "sexposition," which is showing nudity while doing exposition of the film's backstory. On cable TV "sexposition" keeps the ratings up. Except for Denzel mooning the camera, it is the only nudity in the movie.  It is presumably director Zemeckis' way to get people interested in the story. 

Even more: The movie is surprisingly tough on fundamentalist Christians. It seems mean-spirited not sarcastic.