It’s been a few years since director Robert Zemeckis created such a buzz with a work of his, and with Denzel Washington heading the bill along with what appears to be a solid story, “Flight” looked ready for take off and success.
There’s no denying that “Flight” deals with some pretty heavy issues, such as alcoholism and addiction, but multiple times through the film it feels as though these problems are being shoved down our throats. That coupled with repeated religious references such as keeping faith and believing in miracles muddles the overall message and tone of the film. It’s emotionally confusing to follow Captain Whip Whitaker (Washington) in the events following the incident in which he landed a plane that was doomed to crash while drunk and high off of cocaine. The beginning of “Flight” showed enormous potential and really illuminated Washington’s ability to command the screen. The moments leading up to the plane malfunction and Whitaker’s attempts to land the aircraft were riveting. Unfortunately, everything after that gets mediocre.
Whitaker wakes up in a hospital bed a hero, but his days of glory are cut short as his blood test shows that he has cocaine in his system and a blood alcohol content about three times over the legal limit permitted to operate a car. Whitaker’s story is intercut and intertwined with that of severely drug-addicted Nicole (Kelly Reilly). The two meet at the hospital, and Whitaker spontaneously visits her to escape the fact that he can potentially serve life in prison for the four passengers and two airline members that lost their lives during the landing.
There are many elements to “Flight” that makes it a good movie such as the actors and the story, but the delivery fell flat and halfway through the film it becomes pretty clear that there’s no satisfying way to end the movie. Zemeckis aimed for a thought-provoking film that highlights the ambiguity of human morality, but the movie wore itself out within the hour as Whitaker repeatedly plays tug-a-war with his addiction and there’s no solution in sight. When Whitaker finally makes the right decision, it feels long overdue and misses the sense of accomplishment that usually occurs when the protagonist of a film finally conquers his foe. “Flight” is a film that will make audiences feel a wide range of emotions, from laughter to profound sadness to outright rage and frustration, but it doesn’t exactly reward us for sitting through it, either. The end is fitting, but lackluster and stuffed with clichés and lines that some audiences were whispering under their breath before it was spoken out loud.
It’s hard to label “Flight” as a “good” or “bad” movie. It’s a film of grey areas and ambiguity, and many will certainly like it more than others.