SYNOPSIS: In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
REVIEW: Famed Director Robert Zemeckis is at it again with this edgy material called Flight. Headlining this nerve shattering, but touching flick about heroism, notoriety and it’s pitfalls coupled with corporate greed, is Denzel Washington playing the role of Captain “Whip” Whittaker whose quick thinking has him hailed as a hero by the media for saving passenger’s lives when a mid-air disaster strikes. His short-lived fame swiftly changes when his private life struggles come to light and he quickly finds himself on the defensive, for a number of reasons.
Needless to say, Washington‘s grounded performance is spectacular in scope and unparallel in depth. He, as one would expect from the veteran multi- Academy Award winner, maintains the audience’s sympathy without sugarcoating “Whip’s” nasty side. Zemeckis and Washington do not seem to be afraid to let Washington’s character be unlikeable and somewhat repulsive whilst risking the audiences scorn. They are upfront and extremely candid about the fact that “Whip” is a terrible husband, father, employee, and friend with substance abuse as his modus-operandi. It is a very telling and compelling way to gain the audience’s confidence in the material and subject matter addressed in the movie.
Supporting cast members such as Don Cheadle (Traffic) and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, 2009) give some of their best performances to their respective roles as “Whip’s” lawyer and a union representative, respectively. However, their talents seem a bit wasted on the characters they were given and could have been utilized a bit more to spice things up. In other words, any reasonably good actors could have been in those roles and gave great performances. It is quite unfortunate that the duo’s roles were not ‘spiced-up’ a bit more to take advantage of such talent. Along for the ride and faring a bit better in her role was notable British actress Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes) playing “Whip’s” recovering-addict love interest “Nicole.” She is quite convincing as a strung out drug Fein who falls deeply for the unstoppable Captain Whittaker. On the other hand, Whittaker’s drug dealer pal’s role is nailed one hundred and ten percent by the one and only eclectic John Goodman (Argo, 2012). He makes his entrance to his opening scenes jamming to the likes of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” terrifically setting the pace for what’s to come. He is magnificent, well-placed, and properly utilized in his role… just enough to give the movie that extra comedic feel that is well received.
This predominantly substance-abuse drama, with religious references that are frequent and heavy-handed, largely works in spite of some ‘slow-to-the-point’ parts, thanks to its compelling and complicated protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed it and certainly think that it deserves four out of five stars for great subject matter and entertainment value.
By Movie-Man Stan
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