On the surface, “Flight” starring Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker and directed by Robert Zemeckis looks like an interesting story about a pilot who is hailed as a hero after he miraculously crash lands an airplane that malfunctions mid-flight. However, the hook to the story is that he had alcohol and cocaine in his system when they drew his blood in the hospital. Now he could face murder charges.
After seeing the movie, written by John Gatins (Real Steal, Coach Carter) I can say that “Flight” is a very heavy and dark look at addiction with strong themes of religion and often questions whether we are destined to do something or be somewhere or if everything is our choice. That plane was doomed from the start, yet as a terminally ill man tells Whip in the hospital, “You were meant to to be on that plane and to land it like you did. Did you ask for it? No, just like I didn’t ask for getting cancer. You were meant to survive for some reason.”
Throughout the movie we see a a conflict of choice versus destiny. Whip, at one point, literally yelling “I choose to drink!” He is given opportunities, by forces that cannot be explained by man, for him to overcome his drinking problem. Can he do it? Or will he give in to temptation?
The problems with the movie are slight and can be overlooked by many, however they are there. First, some of the music is way too forced and “on the nose.” Hearing “Feeling alright…” every time Whip’s drug dealer, played by John Goodman, comes on screen got tiring. Also after being rescued by his team of people trying to keep him out of jail we hear an elevator playing “With A Little Help From My Friends.” I also thought the ending, particularly the final minute, was wrapped up too nicely and felt too Hollywood standard. At least the audience left the theatre feeling good.
Having just those couple qualms with the film, I thought Washington was top notch and the plane crash scene was terrific, I was getting knots in my stomach as the plane was going down. However, this movie is about more than just a plane crash and that’s what made it good.
In the end, I’m still thinking about the questions and ideas brought up in “Flight” more than I was last week after the three hour, six story epic “Cloud Atlas.”