Flight – 3.5/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Flight – 3.5/5 – In terms of filming and previews, there are always those previews that you see that gives you a good idea of what the film might be about.  Sometimes, those previews don’t tell you the whole truth about the movie.  In other words, this is referred to as a catch 22.  Sometimes, this doesn’t matter to the film if it is excellent, but when it is not, it brings the film down completely.  Flight is one of those films that seems to be about one thing, but turns out to be about another theme.  In retrospect, this isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t bring the film down because the film consists of great acting and a strong theme.  Where the film does fall is in dueling stories and unneeded side characters.

The movie follows a pilot of a commercial airline by the name of Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington).  In the act of desperation of an airplane in freefall, he performs a miraculous landing that saves the lives of most everyone on board.  In the aftermath of the crash, we learn of a deep dark secret that Whitaker deals with on a daily basis.  When it comes to the investigation, will his demons come to haunt him or will he find a way to free himself of the bottle.   First and foremost, the movie is not about flying or flight disasters, even though you see that in the first act.  The basis of this movie is on the character study of alcoholism, and its affect on everyone around it, including the main character.  Denzel Washington, in the role of Whip Whitaker, brings ones of his finest performances to date.  He brings a dire soul, who is not only fighting the situation of the crashed airplane, but also a fight he has had all his life, alcoholism.  In this fight, the torment and anguish that is felt on screen is portrayed in the most realistic approach through Denzel’s acting.  He brings across someone that is fighting the meaning of a moral compass, as well as trying to protect himself behind lies of his drinking habits.  You see not just an actor on screen, but a real person fighting to struggle with the consumption of alcohol and its effect on everyone around him.  The marvel in this portrayal on screen is how touching Denzel makes you feel for a reckless human.  When you reach the somber finale, the relief and completion you get when witnessing the final scene helps you feel that he has fought off the demons for good.  Outside of this marvelous acting job, nothing else really stands out.  For all the supporting characters that are in this movie, they felt like singular objects to the story.  Most the support around Whitaker feels like plot devices placed at convenient points in the film to support the singular theme of Whitaker’s alcoholism.  Some noticeable people in the film are Don Cheadle, who plays the lawyer fighting for Whitakers freedom, and John Goodman, who plays his best friend Harlman Mays.  Goodman is barely on screen, but his presence is comical and great relief to the depressing tone.  Cheadle’s performance as the lawyer is stern and reflective of a real lawyer, but he doesn’t bring anything in the strength of a strong character.  There are some other side characters, like the flight attendants and a love interest who is a recovering drug addict, but they really didn’t bring any importance, even though they tried to make them important.  To me, I felt like the love interest could have been left out with no hindrance on the main story.

When it comes to the direction, it is a solid effort.  The complete flip from the marketing doesn’t deter from the strong character study that is portrayed in the film.  When it comes to the tone of alcoholism, it is strong and well vetted through the main character as well as some of the side characters.  You see the toll it brings to everyone in the film, and how it fuses the truth and lies that Whitaker has to live with.  Watching the scenes when Denzel is fighting against getting a drink is heart-wrenching, as you cheer him to fight the urge.  When he finally reaches a breaking point and comes to terms with the real truth, you see the real strength of human character.  I loved this feeling and the focus the film takes on this theme.  Beyond this strong point, the only sad thing is that there is a dueling story going against this, which involves the flight accident and a side love interest.  This battling of these two themes hindered cohesion between the storylines.  This dueling made you not care for either the love interest or the overall effect of the flight accident.  Some of the scenes were important, but didn’t give off a strong enough effect to be everlasting.  If there was better cohesion, it could have been a marvel of great depth, but was more of a tragic fate of wasted characters and stories.

The cinematography wasn’t very strong, except for the scene of the plane crash.  The intensity of this scene was so vivid and strong, you felt as if you were on the plane.  When the crash happens, you felt, in that instance, that you were one of the characters.  Outside of this, the overall tone was left to the characters and the story.  The score was a notch above this, but didn’t bring any flavor to the film.

Overall, this film is a great character study on alcoholism.  Denzel does a marvelous job in the main role as Whip Whitaker, as he dealt with the futility of his life with drinking alcohol.  I believe there is a nomination for best actor for this role.  Outside of the character study and Denzel’s performance, everything was just a clamor of unimportant material.  With all the focus put on the alcoholism, everything fell to the wayside and was just utterly wasted on screen.  I’d recommend for a matinee, and a probable purchase on DVD.


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