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January 28, 2013
Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis best known for his films Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Forrest Gump (1994) returns with his latest action thriller Flight. A gritty, hard-hitting character driven plot that studies one man’s incomparable bravery, leaving him spiralling out of control as he battles with his inner demons. Flight is an exceptionally well crafted and marvellously acted film that tackles some extremely serious issues and delivers them flawlessly.
Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, an alcoholic drug taking commercial airline pilot about to take control of a 9am flight from Orlando with ‘120 souls’ on-board. Whitaker gulps down alcoholic beverages, smokes a few cigarettes, and argues with his ex-wife about tuition fees before snorting a trail of cocaine in the company of a beautiful young lover Katerina Marque (Nadine Velazquez). Hungry and feeling light headed Whitaker reports for duty, surprisingly with unbelievable self-control as he teasingly flirts with airhostess Margret (Tamara Tunie) before taking command of a flight that will change his life forever. Passengers comfortably seated, the flight takes off but severe weather causes short term turbulence before Whitaker soon restores order, followed by a small self-celebratory alcoholic drink. It’s not long before the situation dramatically changes which leads to Whitaker having to make some brave choices which see him miraculously invert the plane in order to crash land.
Flight’s opening is poignant, fast paced and nerve-shattering, the action rapidly becomes so real and ones worst flying nightmares become reality. Zemeckis really pushes the boundaries of the special effects which are captivating and harrowingly real, even more so when the amateur footage of the events are played back. The film opens to a flying start and the real story begins when Whitaker is no longer regarded a hero. It also runs parallel to the story of Nicole (Kelly Reilly) a drug addict who is suffering from her addiction, intercut between the action, Zemeckis uses this as a tool to enhance the anxiety and prolong the plane crash. Zemeckis uses Nicole’s story to bridge a connection with Whitaker and a sweet bitter love story blossoms between them as they become each other’s strength. The film toys with many different emotions and dabbles with many sub stories that interlace, which perhaps over complicate the narrative, but Washington and Reilly use these changes to give depth to their characters. Washington’s performance is breath-taking and profoundly real, he plays the role with ease but still remains charismatic and charming and in control. The climax is rather disappointing for it is typical cliché Hollywood and does little to satisfy an invested audience looking for something outside the box, but that’s Hollywood.
Flight is a lengthy film that is difficult to follow for its turbulence and bumpy turns leave one spatially disconnected, it’s a film that asks you to consider for yourself right from wrong. The characters are excellent and well throughout with Washington, Reilly and John Goodman delivering exceptional performances. The screenplay by John Gatins breaks away from Hollywood conventions of disaster movie or the typical plane crash/ survivors story but does little with its predictable ending. The film is sure to take off on release and may even see Washington take home the Oscar for Best Actor.
Flight is released in UK cinemas, Friday 1st February.