The word that best describes ‘Flight’ is: intense; not only because of its beginning but ultimately because of its subject matter. This is one of the most solid movies I’ve seen all year, which although it’s a compliment at the same time it makes me think that it played everything mostly safe enough to be likeable. This two hour plus long movie delivers one of the most intense flight scenes I’ve ever experienced, making that alone a good reason to pay to see it; fortunately the rest of the film although it mainly rotates around the main character it takes us on a interesting yet depressing unexpected journey.
After veteran pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) saves a malfunctioning airplane from crashing, he goes between being called a hero and placed under scrutiny when alcohol is found in his blood. With the help of his old friends Charlie (Bruce Greenwood), Harling (John Goodman) and lawyer Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle) he will try to clean up his name, while entertaining a relationship with Nicole (Kelly Reilly).
Director Robert Zemeckis has been focusing on PG movies for a while now, but here he certainly decided to get out of that mold with a hard rated R film. He’s made movies such as ‘Cast Away’ and ‘Forrest Gump’, which weren’t only extremely successful, but like this one, also placed a spotlight on the main character. Zemeckis doesn’t disappoint carrying the audience on a story about this Pilot’s present, without getting overly dramatic or boring. Although there’s a key element missing about his past to explain why he’s become this troubled being, which might stem from either his father’s death or his divorce and estranged relationship with his family; it is never clear.
Washington has to receive some Oscar recognition for his terrific performance here, as he’s able to convey a character that could easily be disliked by those of us watching, but somehow he has us rooting for him. Goodman takes some tension out of the film in the few scenes he appears, as a hippie friend who’s the only one to understand the main character. Cheadle and Greenwood also add a good steady touch to the film, inserting some hard reality into the life of an arrogant man. A lot of the time romance seems pushed on films and although here it has a rocky kind of surreal beginning, it’s able to become more real as it progresses because a big chunk of the film would be missing without Reilly’s involvement.
Speaking of romance, this film encounters interracial relationships, something that Hollywood tends to avoid at times; Washington is seen with a Caucasian woman as well as Puerto Rican actress Nadine Velazquez who has quite a shocking role. The film begins with full frontal nudity; Velazquez’ role might seem minor but she carries more weight than expected. Even though she doesn’t have much of a speaking or acting role, this might be her real breakthrough into the world of Hollywood.
One of the things that bothered me about the film was how much God was mentioned, but seeing how it takes place in the South, to be more specific in Georgia; perhaps it’s showing the religious roots. Maybe, also because whenever there’s a disaster people try to find an explanation through what they believe in. The film touches upon the belief of “everything happens for a reason” and that some people think we don’t have control of our own lives; despite of the religious angle it takes at times, it’s quite interesting. There’s some comedy in it though not only talking about religion, but also with James Badge Dale character.
The film is able to give its public a complete experience, which although it’s mainly depressing and tough to watch at times, it’s entertaining. This isn’t the story of flight 1549 when pilot Chesley Sullenberg landed safely on New York’s Hudson River, saving everyone on board; it’s far from it, but it might remind you a little of it although it was written before this event. So, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy a movie that’s able to use many tools to make you leave the movie theater somewhat uplifted.