Flight (2012)


Actually, however good it is and whatever the way it uses to grant Denzel Washington an Oscar nomination for Best Leading Actor, this flick has never been in my watchlist. For me, "Flight" was too predictable and too plain. What I previously thought about it is that "Flight" is gonna be a one-man show. It's gonna be only Denzel Washington all around. But, again, an unfortunate coincidence made me (oh, I mean "us", because I had a friend with me at that time) watched it and, surprisingly, changed my opinion about it.

“Flight” is about Captain Whip Whitaker (played by Denzel Washington), an airline pilot with a bad addiction to alcohol and drugs. In a flight he handled, something went wrong as the plane flew erratically and landed in a chaos, causing (only) 6 attendants dead from hundreds. While the whole country spotted on how Whitaker successfully avoided a potential number of loss of life because of the heroic landing he did, he was introduced to Hugh Lang (played by Don Cheadle), a lawyer, who supposed to save Whitaker from criminal charges due to the blood test that showed a significant level of alcohol in Whitaker’s blood, right before he crashed the plane.


From hero to zero, I think that's the best term to describe Whip Whitaker. Being a publicly-known hero and a hidden bad guy at one time? A quite unique premise, actually, but things went not as simple as I thought. Despite whether it's against my principle of life or not, "Flight" is a good lesson about life. It tells us a human side of people, even those who we regard as hero. It tells us about truth, honesty, and guilt. The more information I received as the movie played, the more I feel an inner conflict about if he should be regarded as a bad guy who deserves punishment or the one who could be forgiven in certain ways.

After a breath-taking and emotional opening scene of an out-of-control airplane landing, "Flight" went slower (and plainer) as the focus of the story shifts to how Whitaker dealt with both him being someone who deserved national recognition for such an outstanding and chaotic airplane landing that saves many lives, and him being a man with guilt that he should keep for himself and people on his side. From this point, emotional conflict played. It's interesting, perhaps a little bit flat but took viewers' attention. I just don't like how the screenplay seems to avoid giving Whitaker a "struggle" to himself that he should win. Instead, it puts sympathy on him. Well, it's actually okay to let it be, but it became a bit unrealistic. With the addition of Nicole (played by Kelly Reilly) and a subplot about Whitaker's son and ex-wife, there's an obvious effort to make him jump back becoming a hero. And the last act of him having an affair to one of his deceased stewardess—and making it out to be the way everything solved—was, oh, just too much.

Denzel is a good choice for the leading role. He did a good characterization for Whitaker, making him a character who couldn’t easily get viewers’ sympathy but still hardly be hated. Look, at first I just wanna see him embarrassed and charged with life-prison whatsoever for his bad alcoholism and drug addiction (and no motivation he had to quit from it), but as the movie went, Denzel gave a good tolerance to me to see his character as a human instead of a hero. He still tried to collect supporting witnesses for his position before the trial but there’s an ambiguity of expression that he showed. Not a favorite role, but he still took my attention. The rest actors did a supporting role; there’s a short attention shifted to Nicole due to similar problem she shared with Denzel, but luckily it’s so short that it won’t ruined the focus that supposedly given to Whitaker. And finally, as I have predicted, it’s a one-man show of Denzel.


Finally, it’s not because of Robert Zemeckis who directed this movie, not even because an outstanding acting by Denzel Washington, or even because the unique premise. I spotted on this flick because of chance, and luckily it went way more interesting that I have expected. A good study of character and a nice story about addiction that reveals the two-side of a man in a good proportion. Interesting, very interesting.

Flight4 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Unique premise, Denzel's performance, good moral lesson about alcoholism and drug addiction
 ▼  Ambiguous characterization of hero/bad guy making the story a bit unnatural

FLIGHT | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence RUNTIME 138 min GENRE Drama CAST Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Nadine Velazquez WRITER John Gatins DIRECTOR Robert Zemeckis MORE INFO

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