WRITTEN BY: John Gatins
DIRECTED BY: Robert Zemeckis
STARRING: Denzel Washington, Kelly Riley, Don Cheadle, John Goodman
RATING: 3.5 stars
Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a commercial pilot who doesn't mind drinking alcohol and snorting cocaine on the job. His lifestyle has cost him his marriage and relationship with his son, but Whip is having far too much fun sleeping with attractive flight attendants to mind. Everything changes when Whip pilots a plane that crashes due to a mechanical failure. He actually saves dozens of lives due to his exceptional skills of inverting the plane to slow down the descent, but six people still die in the crash. To make matters worse, Whip was intoxicated at the time, which does not bode well for him during the official investigation that involves hard questions and a toxicology report.
The most interesting aspect of Flight for me was my reaction to Whit. Why do I find myself supporting this man who should never have been piloting a plane in the first place? He is hailed a hero by many for his efforts, but he has also been incredibly irresponsible to fly a plane when he is high (pardon the pun). He is a functioning alcoholic and drug addict, and that is what makes him so interesting to study. The character is cleverly crafted by screenwriter John Gatins and director Robert Zemeckis who makes his return to live-action film making.
The interest in Whip is also largely due to Washington himself who gives a convincing performance and has challenged himself more in this role than he has in recent films. He also makes pilot sunglasses look great - not bad for a man nearing the age of 60. He is supported by Kelly Reilly who plays Nicole, a recovering junkie who tries to help Whip face his demons while also trying to avoid her own relapse. Don Cheadle doesn't appear until half way through the film but he is also solid as Whip's lawyer, while John Goodman provides the much-needed and well-timed laughs as Whip's drug dealer.