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In Theatres: 
Nov 02, 2012
Running Time: 
2 Hours, 18 Minutes

Robert Zemeckis has spent the last decade directing computer animated motion-capture films, but he returns to live action cinema with the gripping plane crash of Flight. What first appears to be a miraculous emergency landing by pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) quickly evolves into a drama about alcoholism and the choices we’re faced with.  Unlike what the trailers portray, it’s much more than flying a plane upside-down.

Whip Whitaker is an experienced pilot but nothing could have prepared him for that fateful day. Still, even with enough alcohol and drugs in his system to render a normal man unconscious he manages to do the impossible and crash land the plane and save 96 out of the 102 people on board. While the whole world sees him as a hero, the NTSB investigation aims to question his ability to fly in the condition he was in. It’s a battle of he said, she said, where the consequences ultimately determine whether Whip is a hero or a murderer.

Denzel Washington displays a wide arrange of emotions that cover the entire spectrum. He’s a man who’s dependent on alcohol yet wants to become a better person in general. It’s never quite clear whether he’s actually a good guy or a bad guy and while typically that’s good because it keeps audiences on edge, it ends up being for all the wrong reasons in this instance.

The development of Washington’s character is an abrupt rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows. Whitaker oscillates between a stumbling drunk and a sober gentleman faster than you can mix a cocktail. There’s no time to actually see the impact of one stance before he regresses or improves to the other. While Flight attempts to show one man’s struggle with alcoholism, it does so rather poorly.

That being said, there are some redeeming moments. While Washington’s character may have some problems in the developmental arena, the same can’t be said for his acting ability. Washington’s performance manages to capture the internal struggle of his character well at times. Flight captures Washington at his best, if nothing else.

John Goodman also shines as Harling Mays, Whip’s best friend and drug dealer. He’s the kind of guy who just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks and will stay faithful to Whip, no matter what. Goodman nails the role and provides some much needed comic relief to an otherwise somber film.

It’s these moments that manage to bring Flight off of the ground, and while it might not get very far, it’s a step in the right direction for Zemeckis. His return to live animation is a little rusty, but by no means has he lost his touch. 

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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