Review: Flight (2013)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez and Don Cheadle
Genre: Drama
Release date: February 1 2013 (UK)
by Paramount Pictures
Running time: 138 mins (2 hr, 18 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer

Flight tells the redemption story of Whip (Washington), a commercial airline pilot who pulls off a heroic feat of flying in a damaged plane, saving 98 lives on a flight carrying 106 people. While the world begs to embrace him as a true American Hero, the everyman struggles with this label as he is forced to hold up to the scrutiny of an investigation that brings into question his behavior the night before the doomed flight.

My experience in seeing Flight is somewhat interesting. My dad got an email from Sky (our satellite TV provider) advertising free tickets for an advanced screening of the film and printed out a couple of them for me and him (without telling me, I may add). I hadn’t heard a single thing about the film; I hadn’t seen it advertised or anything. However, I got two pleasant surprises when viewing the film: the first was that there were no adverts (yay!), the second was that I really enjoyed the film.

Flight tells of commercial airline pilot and alcoholic William “Whip” Whitaker, who manages to land his malfunctioning plane in the most daring way possible: rolling the plane to be upside down while in a nosedive. Out of 106 people on the plane, 98 are saved but doctors find something interesting in Whip’s toxicology report that could send him to prison. While an extensive investigation is undergone, Whip strikes up a relationship with Nicole, a recovering heroine addict, which turns difficult as Whip’s worsening drinking habit puts a strain on Nicole wanting to stay sober. While the plot is certainly engaging and kept me captive for the most part, I have one little issue: the climax of the film happens at the beginning when the plane begins to go down. This is definitely the most intense scene of the film and I even found it a little bit scary but, after that the pace slows down an awful lot. Another small issue that I have is that religion plays a somewhat big part of the film since many characters believe that God helped them or that their fate is in His hands, while Whip is obviously doubtful. That got to me a little bit, especially since one character only speaks two lines “Blessed to be alive” and a very forceful “Praise Jesus!“.

The performances of Flight were all so great that I don’t know where to begin. I’m not too particularly acquainted with Denzel Washington’s films so I wasn’t too sure of what to expect from him. Fortunately, I loved his performance as Whip. Washington did a more than fantastic job of portraying Whip as a man with this huge internal struggle that shows on the outside, plus he got an Oscar nomination! Do I think he should win? We’ll have to wait and see what I think about that once I’ve seen the other nominees’ performances. I think my favourite character in the film (even though this isn’t really the kind of film that you pick favourite characters in) is John Goodman’s character Harling Mays, who is Whip’s friend and drug dealer. The majority of his lines are quite funny and as soon as he appears on screen, I had a feeling that he would be the humorous character of the film. My favourite line of his just has to be when he refers to a guard keeping watch over Whip’s hotel room “Cee Lo” (as in Cee Lo Green).

In terms of special effects, there aren’t many save for the plane crash sequences, which looks incredibly realistic. The camera jumps around just like your eyesight would if you were in a real plane crash and although jumpy camerawork usually irritates the living fudge out of me (it messes with my eyesight and makes me feel nauseated), I thought that it worked really well in the scene and added to the tense realistic feel of it. There are also some clever camera techniques used when Nicole is shooting up and Whip is snorting cocaine (I still hate the sound of it). The camera focuses on their faces in extreme close-ups that are as extreme as you can possibly get to show the effects that the drugs have of them, for example, Nicole’s pupils dilating as the heroin takes its effect.

Overall, I really enjoyed Flight: the performances and camera work were fantastic and the plot was engaging for the most part. However, the story could have been just that little bit more exciting since the height of the action of the film was at the beginning. The film is released tomorrow in the UK and I would recommend going to see it… if you don’t have any plans to fly soon that is.

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