Flight Review: Mechanical vs Human Error

flight_movie_poster_denzel_washington_robert_zemeckis_planeFor many, getting a plane is scary enough without there being another movie about a plane crash.  Frequent travelers will most likely see this movie as wind noise where as those who wish to be grounded will use Robert Zemeckis’ Flight as evidence not to fly in an airplane.  Fortunately Flight does not dwell too much on the terror of a plane crash but rather the vices of the man at the helm.  Movie goers are quick to point out that Zemeckis has already done the plane crash exposition to one of his movies, Cast Away, but this is a different breed of crash aftermath.  In Flight the crash continues long after the plane hits the ground.

A brief introduction to Flight is as follows:  Whip Whitaker is a divorced, veteran pilot going about his usual routine before and during his flight until his co-pilot awakes him amidst a hellacious descent requiring an imaginative and miraculous landing that only Whitaker can do.  Knocked out at impact, Whitaker awakens to find that he is a momentary hero for landing a defected plane but his hero status is put in question as his alcohol and drug addictions are brought to the forefront by his union as they try to keep it secret from the public.  Click here is the trailer.

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The first twenty minutes of Zemeckis’ Flight features a very intense sequence but the rest of the movie boarders on snail pace after that.  The remainder of the movie just felt like a giant game of product placement.  Different brands of beer and liquor kept popping up without repeats either.  I know that is miniscule but what the story revolved around was Whitaker’s excessive drinking.  The other thing I did not like was the constant emphasis on plane’s malfunction ing an “act of God.”  Both the union lawyer and the co-pilot would allude to the idea that what happened was God’s intent which is just as crazy as the guy running for an Indiana senate spot saying God “intended” rape pregnancies.  Then there was the constant harping of the step in AA of turning yourself over to God which Whitaker strongly resisted.  It just seemed to me that they were putting down the belief in God.  I could be wrong but that is just the feeling I was getting whether that was intended or not.

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Acting for the most part was strong.  Denzel Washington turns in a good performance but definitely not his best.  Like a lot of Washington’s other roles Whitaker is a very head strong character that no matter what others say by seeing his way as the only way.  The best performance belonged to John Goodman and Don Cheadle as two polar opposite characters.  Goodman played Harling Mays who is Whitaker’s cocaine guy and is absolutely the most entertaining part of the movie despite only being in it for 10 minutes out of the 138 minute runtime.  Don Cheadle was also good as the union lawyer whose efforts are constantly being diminished by Whitaker’s lackadaisical attitude and does his best to keep Whitaker out of prison despite his hatred toward him.

Overall, I was pretty let down with Robert Zemeckis’ Flight.  It was hard to tell if I was supposed to root for Whitaker or to hate him.  If it was the latter, they succeeded.  Whitaker was reckless and selfish.  Those two characteristics are usually used to describe an antagonist not a protagonist.  I have to give Flight a 5/10.

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