Watching "Flight"
Published on November 20, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Denzel Washington movie, "Flight."

Here's an excerpt:

"The new movie 'Flight' is many things — an adult drama about addiction, a star vehicle for Denzel Washington, a character study disguised as a thriller — but about two-thirds of the way through I began thinking of it as a horror movie. Except instead of wanting to scream 'No! Don’t go in there!' at the screen, I wanted to yell, 'No! Don’t open the mini-bar!' But of course the mini-bar is opened. Characters in these types of movies have a choice: to open the mini-bar or not open it. When they stop opening it, the movie stops.

In 'Flight,' Denzel Washington gives one of his best performances as Whip Whitaker, a hot-shot pilot who also happens to be an alcoholic and drug addict. The previews for 'Flight' made the film look like the story of a good and innocent man, wrongly accused of something he did not do, but the opening scenes make it clear that Whip is no innocent: He spends the night drinking with his flight attendant girlfriend, snorts some cocaine to wake himself up, puts on his captain uniform, and heads to the airport for a commuter flight. He steers the plane through some rough weather, drinks some vodka, takes a nap at the controls and is jolted awake when a mechanical failure causes the plane to nosedive toward Atlanta.

As everybody on board freaks out, Whip calmly instructs his colleagues and guides the plane to a rough landing in a field. His actions are amazing and heroic (the film makes it clear that if Whip hadn’t been at the controls, every passenger on board would have died), but the National Transportation Safety Board still has questions. Such as: Why did Whip’s blood test, taken while he was in the hospital, reveal that his blood alcohol level was beyond the legal limit? And if drink service was suspended due to turbulence, why were empty bottles of vodka recovered from the wreck? Fortuantely, Whip has the backing of his union rep, Charlie (Bruce Greenwood), and a shrewd attorney, Hugh (Don Cheadle). Neither of these men are fooled by Whip’s stories and excuses, and they make it clear he must stop drinking, at least until he’s cleared of wrongdoing. 'We can get you help,' Hugh tells Whip. But Whip declines help, which is basically the story of his life."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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