Friday, November 2, 2012
The story in Flight brings to mind that of Sully Sullenberger, who landed a plane successfully in the Hudson River in 2009, saving all of the passengers on board. Now imagine the story behind the man being darker and more twisted, and you get Whip Whitaker, played by Denzel Washington. Whip likes to live life to excess - drink and do cocaine - but he's also an airline pilot. He has a fine record, until one day, that record becomes severely marred; he's a hero, and yet not.
Whip has a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta, his home, a quick 50 minute or so trip. He and flight attendant Trina (Nadine Velasquez) wake up hungover from their tryst the night before, in an Orlando hotel room, and Whip does a few lines of cocaine to wake himself up. The crew encounters a bit of turbulence in the beginning of the flight, but then Whip steers them into calmer skies. Suddenly, though, the plane starts to malfunction, and it takes all of Whip's training and concentration to land the plane on the ground, crashing into an open field, and turning the plane completely over (vertical) in the process. Six people die, including two of the crew members, but the other 90+ are saved, and Whip is hailed as a hero by the press; until they find out about his drinking habits, and that he may or may not have been drinking the morning of the flight.
My only complaint about this movie is that it was a bit slow in the middle. Denzel is in fine form here, and he makes you root for Whip to beat his alcohol addiction. John Goodman should also receive an Oscar nomination for playing Harling Mays, a hippie friend of Whip's who supplies him with cocaine now and then. Don Cheadle is Hugh Lang, an attorney that the union hires to get Whip acquitted of the criminal charges against him, and he and Bruce Greenwood are the only ones on Whip's side for a while. Nicole (Kelly Reilly) is also a druggie, whose path intersects with Whip's, and Melissa Leo, always a chameleon, plays a woman leading the charges against Whip.
Yes, see this film. It clocks in at around 2 hours and 20 minutes, but the time seemed to fly by (no pun intended), and the flight crash scene at the beginning was one of the most tense and horrific that I've seen in quite a while in a movie. I will be shocked if Denzel doesn't get an Oscar nomination for his role here, and Goodman and Cheadle deserve supporting noms as well. Flight will keep you thinking about it long after you leave the theater, and perhaps might make you pause a minute before getting on another airplane, as well.
Flight is in theaters today, November 2nd, and is rated R with a runtime of 139 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.