Robert Zemeckis directs Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly and John Goodman in this airplane crash drama where an alcoholic pilot performs a near impossible landing during a midair malfunction but his toxic lifestyle becomes the centre of the following investigation.
The curse of Denzel Washington is he is such an acclaimed and proven talent that often the projects he is in don’t feel fully worthy of him. Or the stellar performances he commits to can feel like business as usual. Flight suffers from the latter issue. If Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford did half of what Denzel achieves here it would be Oscars all round. Yet as great as he is as the bad boy, past-his-prime pilot, it ain’t quite of that Mo Better Blues, Malcolm X or The Hurricane standard. He’s almost better off taking the paycheck and excelling in expert schlock like Inside Man or Man Of Fire rather than wasting big swings in merely solid projects like this. Or not working at all unless he knows it is a diamond role in a platinum film. Flight has a really impressive opening act where Denzel’s sleazy and sweaty Whip Whitaker flips into calm expert mode and saves 100 passengers performing a stunning piece of flying. Zemeckis revels in recreating the chaos in the cockpit and standard class, it is a sustained sequence up there with Fearless and Alive for its immersive shock. After that though the movie gets lost in the woods. The soundtrack is too on the nose, an ill fated romance goes nowhere, we aren’t having fun anymore. For a film about a spectacular ditching of an aircraft, Flight really struggles to stick the landing after a generous and often spectacular approach.
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