I have a confession. I hadn’t seen the movie Flight because it was directed by Robert Zemeckis. Don’t get me wrong, I like Zemeckis, but he’s a fairly safe director. His movies are usually PG or PG-13 and they rarely push any sort of boundaries. It tends to be almost impossible to be offended watching a Robert Zemeckis movie no matter who you are. It’s one of the reasons he’s had a very successful career for decades. So he wasn’t the first person I thought of when it comes to making a movie about an alcoholic pilot who crashes a commercial jet.
Flight lets us know right away though that this is not going to be a movie for all audiences. The opening scene show a nude woman and the use of cocaine and marijuana. This was a great way to get rid of any apprehensions the audience might have that Zemeckis can’t do dark.
Pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a veteran commercial airline pilot with a long history as a high functioning alcoholic. When he finds himself too drunk he just does a line or two of cocaine to get straight. He’s as good at his addictions as he is at flying. So when everything goes wrong on a quick flight from Orlando to Atlanta, Whip ably deals with increasingly impossible adversity, but it’s not enough to keep the plane in the air.
During his recovery, he meets another addict named Nicole (Kelly Reilly) and they form a tenuous relationship in the way that only two people drowning might do. It’s desperate and it’s doomed and it’s inevitable.
The storyline for the film is equally desperate and doomed and inevitable. We pretty much already know how things are going to go in a film like this. Alcoholic movies have a pattern and this one doesn’t stray too far from it.
Luckily, it’s aided by good filmmakers and an excellent support cast. I’d argue that John Goodman’s character is enough to merit watching Flight all on its own. Don Cheadle’s lawyer character has a few great moments as well.
Flight is a good alcoholic movie. It’s a definite departure for Zemeckis. Denzel Washington is excellent. But much like Zemeckis’ other work, there’s really nothing groundbreaking going on here.
Flight is currently available on Netflix of you can purchase Flight at this link.