The new Denzel Washington movie Flight will hurt you. It doesn’t matter what your expectations are this is a movie with a story that will make you ache and wish it would go away. It won’t be hard for you to agree with me that Denzel has always fallen squarely on the side of ‘good’ leading man. Sure we can talk about the mastery of playing the corrupt cop in 2001’s Training Day or the imperfect hero in the Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 but Denzel is the dependable rock of values and integrity. Until now! Moments into the film and your Mum is going to wish she’d never met that Denzel boy.
Flight is a story of brokenness. It stumbles through the life of ‘Whip’ Whitaker a domestic airline pilot on a daily grind getting passengers across continental USA. It’s something he does in his sleep. The trouble is some of that sleep is induced from a life falling apart on booze and kick-starts from cocaine. He’s got cracks where a man shouldn’t have cracks and it shows.
So as Whip boards a regular morning flight and punches the plane through a storm base all seems on the edge of normal. He’s in control, that is until disaster hits. The story of Flight surrounds the saviour spinning skills of a pilot under the influence of drink drugs and a hard night before. As the plane with 106 souls on board looks to meet terra firm without an introduction Whip pulls the wildcard out of his back pocket and saves the day with a manoeuvre that is definitely not in the training manual . The rest of the film will wind you through an aircraft crash investigation that asks was there a fault, a hero, a callous and indifferent initiator or ‘D’ all of the above.
Our cast of Flight provides a great tag team of dealing with the issues. Somehow ‘thrown together’ Whip meets a broken and drug dependant Nicole played by Kelly Reilly who you will remember as Watson’s fiancé in the Sherlock Holmes movies. We then ask can love save the day and should it. Don Cheadle makes the ideal corporate lawyer protecting the airline owner’s interest while trying to work with a sometimes out of control Washington. Bruce Greenwood shows the struggle of wanting to watch out for an old flying buddy as the airline’s union rep while recognising that sometimes people have to hit the wall on their own. The disturbingly well played role however goes to John Goodman for his 3min of screen time as Whittaker’s buddy and drug supplier. You’ll want to laugh but you know you’re not allowed.
It’s great to see Robert Zemeckis back to directing a real life movie after a thirteen year hiatus after he got Tom Hanks off Castaway island. The directing, cast and story is woven well for a movie supposedly made for just over $30million. The storyline came from writer and actor John Gatins. This unique talent has picked up a number of acting roles but it is definitely his recent writing works including Real Steel and Coach Carter and now Flight that are winning him a number of fans even producing the momentum for us to see Real Steel 2 now announced.
For Flight, you’ll be amazed at how hard it is to answer the morality question. You will keep being drawn in like a co-dependant housewife who’s abusive husband keeps coming home drunk. He apologises, brings roses and then lets you down again. As an audience you want Whip to win and so Denzel is the ideal focal point for the Whip Whittaker character. You see the hurt, the struggle and the occasional glimmer of hope but can it, should it work. Like the opening scene as Whip pilots the plane off the tarmac in a hairy electrical storm, you can see the gap in the black stormy madness and you want to punch through. The question is, will there be enough in the emotional tank to last the journey. Flight makes you hurt because you don’t see the rider on a white horse with a silver bullet. Maybe it’s more real, but it all felt more gritty and desperate. A great story that makes you wonder what happened.
For language, nudity and drug use Flight has been rated accordingly at R16. Now once you’ve seen Flight you will have the evidence before you and you will need to make a call as you leave the theatre. Should good overcome bad as we play the roulette wheel with morality chips. Can you forgive a fallen hero?
Rated: R16 for Offensive language, drug use & sexual themes
4 out of 5 popcorns