Flight – Review
January 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Film Review by FilmFellaLozz – 7/10
Following a ten-year spell of dabbling in motion capture animated features, including Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol, Robert Zemeckis has chosen to return to live action movie making with this, Flight. He has been quoted as saying that he outright dreads making live action films; so why has he come back? Well, with little in the form of special effects or having to execute massive set pieces, he has been able to focus his efforts at making a character study. Where as Cast Away showcased Tom Hanks needing a connection, so much so, that he made friends with a volleyball; Flight is a vehicle for Denzel to flex his dramatic muscles as he pushes everybody in his life away. Here though, instead of putting a message in a bottle, Washington turns to the bottle. It’s always about the bottle, apparently.
Washington is Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot on the edge. He is a binging alcoholic, a recreational drug abuser and general douche bag. After a 3-day bender, he awakes, snorts some ‘coke’, smokes a bit of weed and then downs a few miniature bevies aboard the plane he is about to fly. Ah ha…but following an unfortunate malfunction, the aircraft starts hurtling towards the ground. After some crazy upside down maneuvers, he manages to save a lot of lives. He’s a hero right? Well, when the investigation starts, all the shit unravels. Then you have to decide: Is he a saviour of souls or a stupid god damned idiot?
I’m not Denzel Washington’s biggest fan (See my Hits & Shits of DW here), but Flight sees his best performance since Man on Fire. I’ve always said that Washington is pretty much the same in everything, with one or two exceptions. This makes three. I was quite impressed with his interpretation of an alcoholic, struggling to come to terms with the fact that he actually is an alcoholic. His portrayal of an addict is somewhat similar to that of Nicolas Cage in mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas. This is in the way that you feel sorry for him, while at the same time thinking he’s an asshole. He’s not as good as Cage, but it’s still a damn good show. Although a comparable character, Leaving Las Vegas pushed a few darker boundaries, but that’s not Washington’s fault. Hats off to him for not playing safe for once.
Moreover, the central female character comes in the form of Nicole (Kelly Reilly), a recovering heroine junkie, in what appears to be Whip’s kindred spirit. However, like Leaving Las Vegas, acceptance and the want for change is present here. Alongside Washington, she definitely holds her own. Other supporting characters come in the form of Don Cheadle, the insurance dude investigating the crash and the completely underused John Goodman as the guy that will hook you up. But this is the Denzel show, and you know, that’s ok, as this is a decent character piece; for him and Zemeckis.
Looking at Zemeckis’ back catalogue, nothing’s gonna beat Back to the Future, but with that aside, this could well be his best movie. He pulls a moving performance out of Washington and tells a interesting story with some flare that takes a few risks here and there; in terms of not making a family-friendly movie again. However, for somebody who has invested a decade in special effects CGI, the plane crash does not impress.
Flight, for the most part, is a good film. However, the very thing that is being dissected here; an alcoholic’s spiral out of control, isn’t confronted entirely. What would be the most worthy-of-note juncture in the movie, the cold-turkey element, is washed over completely and almost disappoints enough to ruin the film. It doesn’t, just. However, this is a dent that couldn’t be overlooked.
A soundtrack including an eclectic mix of soul and rock, with the sounds of The Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers does work and is a worthy partner to the visuals. Washington is good and it’s definitely a welcome return to live action for Zemeckis. The Narrative lets it down a little, but on the whole, a solid worth-a-watch movie.