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“Flight” A Tense Drama That Captivates
Posted by LaDale Anderson on Nov 1, 2012 - 7:55:34 PM

HOLLYWOOD—“Flight” is one of those pictures that stays with you; long after you leave the theater the drama that is experienced on the screen haunts the viewer. It’s an adrenaline rush that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  There is no arguing that Denzel Washington is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time, but his performance in “Flight” is one of the actor’s fiercest performances to date. 


Washington portrays Captain Whip Whitaker, a seasoned pilot that is deemed a hero by the public after he courageously lands an airplane that encounters some mechanical failure at an inopportune time.  The problem with being heralded as a hero is that everyone wants to know about your life.  The big secret Whitaker has been keeping is that he’s an alcoholic and druggie.  To make the situation even worse is that he’s being investigated by officials who are curious as to “how” he was able to land the plane considering its condition.   Washington is stellar, playing dual roles: one as a hero, the other as someone in denial about his addictions.  His inability to acknowledge that he indeed has a problem keeps the audience drawn to his character.  The downward spiral that bemoans him is exciting to watch on the screen.  It doesn’t just happen rapidly; it takes time. 

Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) in "Flight."


Our protagonist (Washington) heightens the actors that surround him on the screen, including Don Cheadle as a suave lawyer good at lying through his teeth, Kelly Reilly as a heroin addict who knows Whitaker way to well and of course we can’t forget John Goodman portraying Whitaker’s provider to his addiction.  This movie could have turned into a flimsy thriller had the picture been rated PG-13, but the film’s R-rating allows the picture to push the boundaries. 


There is no limit to seeing how deep of a depression a hero falls into, once the secrets that have been so closely protected are starting to unravel in the public sphere.  Dealing with an addiction in private is one thing, but when the entire world is watching your every move that addiction becomes even harder to fight.  “Flight” is a drama dealing with heavy stuff. Director Robert Zemeckis does a stellar job balancing character arcs, narrative and what is depcited on the screen.  With the recent exposure in the media of pilots flying planes while intoxicated, this picture heightens the tension some of us feel while flying.  Washington delivers a charismatic performance of a man flawed; someone grappling with being deemed a hero by some, and a villain by others.


“Flight” is a movie not too be missed, if not for Washington’s performance, but for the message that the movie sends.  None of us are fully in control of our bodies, even if we’d like to think we are.


Cliffside Malibu




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