AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2012
By Dave Campbell | November 2, 2012
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: John Gatins
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, James Badge Dale
Damn you Zemeckis!!! You really want to scare the $#!* out of everyone when it comes to air travel don’t you?
Flight follows the troubled story of Whip Whitaker; a tenured commercial airline pilot that strategically pulls off a crash landing after a series of mid-air complications sends his plane into an uncontrollable nose dive. By salvaging the majority of the lives on board (minus a handful), Whip is thrust into the media as a hero. But after his required blood tests show the presence of high amounts of alcohol and cocaine, Whip’s abilities and the cause of the crash are called into question and force him into a scandalous tailspin of scrutiny, lies and further self destruction.
This film is really quite enjoyable in the the beginning due to the wild ride that we take in the personal set up of the characters and the aforementioned plane crash. Every second that John Goodman’s character graces us with his presence the film shines. In contrast to that however, Denzel Washington reaches into his familiar bag of tricks and pulls out the stock quivery chin, frustrated stuttering, and angry yelling that we’ve seen in nearly every single one of his performances. The stand-out scene of the film is driven by James Badge Dale’s character (his only scene), and ends up being the most rewarding human exchange of the entire film. After that, Flight began it’s final descent.
On a technical front, Flight looks and sounds pretty great. The special effects around the crash scenes couldn’t have looked or felt more realistic. But it’s the overly cliché nature of Hollywood tidiness that it possesses that really took this film in a free fall nosedive. Ultimately, everyone (with screen time) gets a neat, wrapped up, little happy ending in one way or another. It may not be storybook like, but clean slates are generously passed around.