Flight is a film directed by Robert Zemeckis, with a screenplay written by John Gatins. The film follows veteran airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) as he courageously rescues an aircraft after an unknown calamity causes the plane to descend into a devastating crash. Following the crash, Whitaker is hunted down by the media and hailed as a hero for his uncanny ability to act in a time of distress and land his plane. However, as the movie progresses, questions begin to arise about the true events that took place before, during, and after the crash. More and more is revealed and everyone learns that the situations surrounding the crash prove much more convoluted and disturbing than was first thought.
From the outside, this movie has all of the necessary parts to make it look like a fascinating piece of film work. For starters, the director is Robert Zemeckis, renowned for directing critical and commercial movie successes like the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away. The film also features a screenplay by John Gatins, the writer of Summer Catch, Hardball, Coach Carter, and Real Steel. Lastly, the lead actor is Denzel Washington—that alone will make film fans flock to the theaters in droves.
The obvious thing to discuss next is the crash scene. I do not want to give anything away for those that have not seen the movie, but it is the scene that begins the movie and sets the stage for the rest of the plot to transpire. There have been some scary, stressful plane-crash scenes in film—the hijacking scene from United 93 and the plane crash at the beginning of Zemeckis’ own Cast Away—but the crash in Flight is a version of those scenes but on steroids. The scene is done in a manner that only Robert Zemeckis could dictate, and for the duration of the entire scene, you will be glued to your seat in sheer terror. After the crash scene, however, the film seems to drag on for the next couple of hours. Although some other interesting events do take place, the majority of the movie cannot live up to the first 20 minutes or so.
John Goodman, Don Cheadle, and Kelly Reilly turn in solid supporting performances, but like in most movies, Denzel steals the show. The man has become one of the premier actors of this generation in the film industry, and I truly cannot think of a Denzel movie that I disliked him in—he’s just that good. Washington is nominated for Best Actor for his performance, marking his sixth Academy Award nomination. In Flight, he portrays a man that has not only lost his grip on reality, but he has lost a sense of his own inner identity. Washington releases himself into the character, and his immersion on the screen is everything you could want in a performance. If it was not for an incredibly competitive Best Actor field this year, Washington might very well find himself holding another golden statue. Flight is rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity, and an intense action sequence.
Academy Award nominations for Flight:
Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington)
Writing – Original Screenplay (John Gatins)