Thought the first 30 minutes of Flight were edge-of-your-seat, nail-bitingly intense, the rest of the movie, while mostly intriguing, was a bit held back by a frustratingly and increasingly unsympathetic lead character.

Flight

Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Brian Geraghty, James Badge Dale, Kelly Reilly, Tamara Tunie

Premise: Captain Whip Whitaker managed to save 94 out of 102 people when he was miraculously able to land his plane after a major mid-air crisis. At first he is lauded as a hero, but things aren’t always as they seem. As details of the crash are uncovered Whitaker goes into a tailspin. Flight is not a story of a hero, or a plane crash, or its victims, it is in fact a story about dangerous addiction.

My Review: I was able to see a special screening of Flight, and as a movie lover, I know Flight is not a bad movie. The acting is, in fact, incredible, the story line intriguing, the plane crash frighteningly compelling. Everything about this movie was at its best, writing, directing, cinematography… And I believe the fact that Zemeckis has recently done motion capture movies actually helped him by placing the camera in fresh positions.

 

However, and this was a big however, I am not as taken with this movie as other’s are, and I believe that has to do with Denzel Washington’s performance. Denzel Washington is a great actor/performer and he damn well sure knows how to carry a movie. That being said, I feel like all of Denzel’s characters are extremely similar. He just has this arrogant thing about him that can, well, be frustrating. And with this movie it was at its most frustrating and infuriating. I was so fed up with this character’s actions, and perhaps that was the point of it all, but I felt like it was a performance of Denzel’s we’ve seen before and it wasn’t all that powerful as previous works (see American Gangster, John Q, Remember The Titans, Training Day, hell even Safe House). There was just something about Whip Whitaker I did not like. Then again, maybe that was the point. We weren’t supposed to like him, I mean “Whip” didn’t even like himself so why should we? If so, Denzel did a damn fine job, I just wished there were a few more layers in there…

This movie was also one note. Though each character was multi-faceted and layered and extremely complicated, the tone of the movie was heavy, heavy, heavy. It started off with a nerve wracking, stressful, and frankly traumatic 30 minutes. There are images and scenes in that beginning sequence that will stick with me for a long long time. And also make me want to never get on a plane. But from that dramatic point, the movie just never really lets up. There were no real moments of lightness. Sure there was humor, thanks to John Goodman, but it was humor rooted in darkness, if that makes sense. I understand that not everything needs to be rainbows and cotton candy, but a movie should feel like a an exciting roller coaster, not a never ending death drop of darkness and doom and destruction and…okay you get the point.

Overall this was an intense, dark, greatly acted movie. All the actors in this movie are incredible and there are some moments, particularly a scene in a staircase, which will leave you breathless with how well acted it was. But just once, just once, I’d love to see Denzel Washington play a character with some humility. But then…I guess he wouldn’t be Denzel.

 

Rating: 3 Stars

 

 

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Comments
  1. You make some very good points in your review. Like you, I won’t be forgetting that crash sequence; or that feeling of tension during take-off. The cinematography in those scenes was stunning, believable, beautiful, and terrifying.
    I think the script was solid, as was the directing, but it would never have gotten off the ground without Washington’s performance. As evidence to back that up, I point to the frustration you mentioned. I was squirming in my seat, practically begging for Whitaker to turn things around, because I saw his heart. Call me crazy, but I think it could be seen.
    I don’t argue that this movie was heartrending; difficult to watch, to say the least. But Washington says so much with his action, his tone, his expression, etc. And, Whitaker’s pride was his defense mechanism. (Although that doesn’t account for Washington’s.)
    I thought “Flight” dealt with addiction of all kinds with honesty, because Whitaker would only ever swallow his pride when he was forced to own his addictions.
    Are you going to review Skyfall?

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