Flight – 4 out of 5
It’s been awhile since Robert Zemeckis has directed a live-action film. In 2000, he directed Cast Away—the film about the troubles and tribulations faced by a brave volleyball and the romance he shares with Tom Hanks when Hanks arrives on his island. Since then, Zemeckis has devoted his time to motion-capture films and haunting my dreams with the soulless, emotionally devoid-eyed demons that inhabit those animated films. Flight sees Zemeckis returning to the world of the living and shows he still has what it takes when he’s not making you question the existence of god thanks to horrifying animation of monsters dressed like people.
|Don't stare too long into its eyes, it'll steal your soul. If you don't believe in a soul,|
it will create one for you and then steal it.
Flight tells the story of the alcoholic, drug addicted pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) who, after a night of drinks, cocaine and sex, awakes to pilot a commercial flight only to find the plane he’s aboard suffer a terminal malfunction. With the plane about to go down, he pulls every pilot’s trick out of his ass and, nearly miraculously, crash lands the plane with few casualties. After an investigation undergoes, it’s discovered that alcohol was in his system during the crash and he’s now face with not only his substance abuse issues but somehow defeating the resulting charges if his addiction is discovered.
|"I'm about to fly the hell out of a plane..."|
|"Or I'll fly this bitch into a church."|
First off, this story is just plain awesome. From the tension filled moments of the plane crashing to the battles of the investigation and the moral decisions of whether or not the alcohol abuse should be covered up or not make for not just a compelling story but a movie that really keeps you glued to the screen. Zemeckis really keeps the film going and the viewer on the edge of their seat as he really puts you in the action of not just the crash but the moral dilemmas faced by the character…and he puts in a kick ass soundtrack in there as well!
|I suddenly want to become a pilot...|
Denzel is fantastic as Whip the pilot even though I had my doubts and thought he was going to be playing the same character he’s been playing since he won the Academy Award for Training Day—you know, the wise-talking but sage veteran of whatever profession he’s in for the film who is always cool as a cucumber until he needs to get angry and put people in their place. At the beginning of the film, he suffers from this and as the plane crashes there was very little difference between this character and the one who was trying to stop a runaway train. However, as the film progresses and Whip starts to deal with and acknowledge that he’s just a little too into drinking, we start to see a vulnerability in the character and a dramatic change in Washington’s performance I haven’t seen in over ten years. He was actually very emotionally powerful in the film.
|I couldn't find a screencap that adequately showcased Washington's emotional|
performance so enjoy this picture of Don Cheadle in front of a car.
But the great acting doesn’t stop at Denzel because the rest of the cast is composed of actors who felt the need to act the fuck out of their roles. And act the fuck out of them they did.
|"So...what are you guys doing later? Wanna hang out? I just got the first season|
of The Wire from Netflix..."
Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood are the duo working their ass off to cover up Whip’s love of the hooch while John Goodman has a small (but awesome) role as Whip’s dealer. All three men are just fantastic backing up Washington in the film and Goodman was so…well…good that I wanted to see more of his character throughout the film. However, whenever John Goodman is in a film I always want to see more of him because he’s a great fucking actor and if you don’t agree…well, I respect your difference of opinion and wish you a good day.
|"Yep, I'm pretty awesome!"|
The only real complaint I have about the film is the fact that there is a lot of religious commentary in the film—discussions about how God either created the crash or saved those involved or how great God is. This complaint has nothing to do with the fact I don’t believe in an invisible wizard in the sky because there are a lot of films I like that involve religious imagery and story aspects but the way that God was talked about in the film came off really creepy. For example, the dead-eyed stare (like the ones the mo-cap characters have in Zemeckis’ animated films) of the copilot’s wife has when Whip visits him and she talks about how Jesus is watching over her husband.
|Damn...look at her in the corner. I think she's about to start speaking in tongues.|
I don’t know if this was Zemeckis providing commentary about religious nuts during tragedy or a misguided attempt at pandering to the holy rollers of the audience but it just felt out of place and forced. However, this wasn’t an overwhelming theme and was just usually a detour the film took two or three times before getting back on the track of Whip desiring to snort blow off ladies’ asses in-between flying the friendly skies.
|You telling me the copilot's mustache couldn't fly the plane?|
Flight is a tremendous film that showcases Denzel Washington’s awesome ability that I thought was lost after a long series of typecasting. Nearly everything about this film (the cast all rocking the hell out of their roles, the soundtrack rocking the hell out of the sound and the story rocking the hell out of itself) comes together to make a film that just plain delivers. My minor complaint aside, this has to be not only one of the best films I’ve seen Denzel in but one of the best Robert Zemeckis directed features as well.