Films that are driven by character studies are some of the most fascinating. Last year’s “Shame” was a brilliant, yet scary portrayal of a man (Michael Fassbender) suffering from sex addiction; this year’s “Smashed,” focuses on an alcoholic (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who struggles to shake her addiction; and one of the most famous and best character-study films is “The Graduate,” a story about a young man (Dustin Hoffman) who is desperately trying to figure out what to do with his life after college.
“Flight” tells the story of a pilot, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) and the events that happen post plane crash. A mechanical error causes Whip’s plane to malfunction, leaving it up to him to land the plane safely. Once he lands the plane and wakes up from his coma, Whip learns that out of 102 people on board, 4 passengers and 2 members of the crew have died. If any other pilot had been flying that plane, it’s likely that no one would have walked away.
Whip is considered a hero and everyone around him wants to praise him, but he hides a dark secret. When Whip was taken into the hospital post-crash, the toxicology report showed that he had alcohol in his blood system.
The opening 30 minutes of this film presents us with the most intense and gripping scene in movies all year. My heart was pounding and I found myself short of breath, literally. The first hour of the film is strong and I was completely involved in the story. It’s the second part where the story starts to stretch a bit, making the two hour and 18 minute long film too long.
Without giving too much away, it should be clear that “Flight” is not just a film about a plane crash and the “hero” who saved so many lives; it’s about a man with severe problems, desperate for help.
Washington is fantastic and leads the film with a compelling performance, that is one of the best of the year. His performance is not Oscar-worthy, but is certainly ranks somewhere in the top 10.
This is easily Zemeckis’ best film since 2000’s “Cast Away.” The talented director has a unique way of telling a story through the eyes of our lead character and in the case of this film, we truly feel the agony Whip is going through.
“Flight” is a gripping and intense tale that welcomes Zemeckis back to live-action and showcases the talented Denzel Washington. It’s the length of the film and the drawn out plot-line that end up hurting this character study.