PG Cooper: Flight Review

Posted: November 20, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: November 2nd, 2012

Running time: 2 hours and 19 minutes

Written by: John Gatins

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, and Don Cheadle

Flight opens with pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) waking up from a night of heavy drinking. He needs to fly that morning, so in order to up himself he snorts a few lines coke. With high levels of alcohol and cocaine in his blood, Whitaker flies anyway. During the flight, the plane malfunctions and goes into a nose dive. Through some insane manoeuvres, Whitaker manages to save the majority of the passengers. He is initially hailed as a hero, but this is complicated when it is revealed that Whitaker was intoxicated during the flight. Whitaker tries to control his drinking while a lawyer (Don Cheadle) attempts to overcome the legal issues of Whitaker flying intoxicated.

The film’s key strong point is Denzel Washington’s performance. As a character, Whitaker isn’t too different from others Denzel has played before. He’s arrogant, charismatic, and despite his shortcomings is always somewhat likable. Denzel has done similar work before, but where he really shines is in depicting Whitaker’s alcoholism. Denzel manages to capture the sadness of being an addict and the inner turmoil that his character goes through flawlessly. Denzel’s natural charisma makes him someone one roots for throughout. Even in Whitaker’s lowest moments, one wants him to succeed.

No one in the film reaches Denzel’s level, but there’s good work from the rest of the cast. Kelly Reilly plays a fellow addict who is trying to clean up. Reilly does strong work here, bringing a lot of sincerity to the role, particularly in scenes where she’s trying to help sober Whitaker up. Don Cheadle’s character isn’t the most interesting, but Cheadle gives a strong performance. I was less fond of John Goodman’s work. In a vacuum, John Goodman is fine but his character clashes with the overall tone of the film and he often undercut the drama.

The film actually has a tendency of undercutting the drama. One of the film’s strongest points is the story of Whitaker trying to kick his alcohol habit. It’s truly compelling material, but every so often the drama is challenged by odd choices. The John Goodman scenes for example feel far too comedic, especially since both occur immediately following very dramatic scenes. The film’s soundtrack is made up of classic rock songs like “Gimme Shelter” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. I like these songs, but their cool tone doesn’t gel with the drama on screen. I also wasn’t fond of the film’s overt religious themes. I don’t mind a film with a religious undercurrent, but I prefer it to be more subtle. There’s one hospital scene in particular which was almost laughable. I also found it odd that all the religious content lead to nothing.

I don’t want to criticize the film too harshly though since there are a lot of positives too. For all my problems with the soundtrack, there are some good choices too, like a great scene with Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The plane crash scene is a brilliant one and one of the more unique scenes in any film this year. It’s tense, nerve-racking, and seems to stretch on forever. I also found the film’s climax and conclusion to be very powerful.

Flight is a film that I have a lot of issues with. The drama of the story is weakened by odd choices and a lack of subtlety, but there are also some amazing scenes and moments which impressed me quite a bit. The film also features some great performances, particularly Denzel Washington who gives an award worthy turn. Overall, while not a great film, Flight is a respectable piece of adult entertainment worth checking out.

Rating: B+

Comments
  1. filmhipster says:

    Good review, look forward to seeing it. Probably a rental though.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    The film as a whole, definitely did not engage me as much as Denzel’s powerful performance, but still kept me watching the whole time. I hope he gets a nomination because it’s some of his best work I’ve seen from him in a long, long time. Good review PG.

  3. Thought the soundtrack was great, actually. :D

    But I’m with you on the rest of it. There are a lot of odd choices, and “Subtle” certainly isnt a word that people are going to use to describe this flick. :(

    Entertaining enough though, I thought. Not a bad film, per se…

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