Although Flight opens on a full-screen shot of a nipple, it quickly digresses into one of the most intense movie scenes I’ve ever watched on screen. Pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a hero; he landed a plane that malfunctioned at an extremely high altitude, losing only six lives of the 102 on board. The crash scene is everyone’s worst nightmare, even for people who aren’t necessarily afraid of flying, and that’s part of what made it so intense and thrilling to watch. The way it’s filmed during the chaotic and fearful dissent to a crash landing is phenomenal, and I loved how the camera flashed between the passengers, flight attendants, cockpit, and out the front window so you could get a clear picture of exactly what was happening. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie that was so gripping.
Okay, so after Whitaker wakes up in the hospital and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) begins investigating, it’s evident that Whitaker was intoxicated during the flight, and a little more than the trailer depicts. His subsequent struggle between fighting to clear his name (and avoid prison) while lying to himself and everyone around him is captivating and Washington gives an Oscar-worthy performance without a doubt.
Directing Washington in this performance is Robert Zemeckis, who also directed Forrest Gump. The two movies couldn’t be more dissimilar. For most of Flight, Whitaker is an unlikeable character. He’s nothing like the charming, lovable Forrest. He didn’t seem to be created in the fantasy world of Hollywood, but rather in the real world of alcoholism and lies and anger. That being said, the ginger heroin junky, Nicole (Kelly Reilly) whom he meets at the hospital and takes into his home felt completely contrived and fantastical. She seemed like an unnecessary appendage to the plot, and I didn’t believe a word of her self-righteous bullshit. But after she’s out of the movie, it’s all great from there on out. Not to say that it wasn’t great when she was in it, but she did kind of drag the movie down. I guess it was a combination of not being impressed with her acting, and feeling like the character had no place in the movie to begin with. Whitaker’s coke dealing buddy (John Goodman), on the other hand, is a hilarious, wonderful oddity in the film. Although his lines are at times ridiculous, he makes them work with his sarcastic, fuck-with-me demeanor.
Oh, and the highly emotional ending is one of the best I’ve seen as well. So although I’m not going to spoil it, know that it’s beyond amazing, as is the film. :D