The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Flight | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Flight

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velasquez, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale, Melissa Leo

A pilot who prevents his passenger plane from crashing is revealed to have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Commercial airline pilot Washington wakes groggily from a night of sex and booze with stewardess Velasquez. Later that day he pilots what should be a regular flight, sneakily imbibing some vodka while at the controls. When the plane malfunctions, heading into a steep dive, he regains control by rolling the plane upside down and lands it relatively safely in a field. All but four passengers and two stewardesses, including Velasquez, perish. The pilot is hailed as a hero for his actions but a toxicology report reveals the extreme levels of alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time. In an attempt to save the airline from disrepute, a pilot's union rep (Greenwood) and an attorney (Cheadle) work to bury the report, but Washington's continuing spiral into alcoholism threatens to expose the reality of the story.
Zemeckis film has been lauded, chiefly for two reasons: Washington's superb performance and the opening near-crash set-piece. Both are equally impressive but there's little else here to get excited about. The marketing pitches 'Flight' as a far more interesting film than the one presented, selling us a movie which poses the question "When does a hero stop being a hero?", a particularly poignant one for Americans given the current furor over disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. That's not the movie Zemeckis has made however. His film is a cliched, and extremely simplistic, examination of addiction.
What makes this surprising is the fact that Zemeckis himself is a recovered alcoholic. You certainly wouldn't think it from this black and white portrayal. The film's entire plot is highly flawed, resting on a ridiculously far-fetched premise. There's simply no way a pilot could successfully hide his alcoholism from an airline. How would he pass the regular medical tests? It's the director's first live action movie in twelve years and only his second straight drama, if you include 'Castaway'. Zemeckis is clearly out of his comfort zone here, trying to pep up dramatic scenes with flashy camera tricks and cliched rock music. At times it resembles the early films of Paul Thomas Anderson and seems more like the work of an ADD suffering novice film-maker rather than an experienced and learned one. Most bizarre is Goodman's drug-dealer character who seems to have stepped right out of a Coen brothers comedy. 
Give Zemeckis a set-piece involving a plane hurtling towards the ground and he will certainly thrill you. Give him a human drama and he'll attempt to thrill you, and that's exactly the problem with 'Flight'.
Flight (2012) on IMDb 7.4/10

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