Movie Review: Flight

Robert Zemeckis called his film, “bold, audacious, complex, and morally ambiguous.” I’d call it a subtle study of alcoholism with a flawed superhero. The film centers around Captain Whip Whitaker, an inebriated pilot who lands a mechanically doomed plane under impossible circumstances. Though the media immediately celebrates him, his close personal circle warns him that the National Transportation Safety Board might discover his intoxication during their investigation, and even though his mental state did not cause the crash, the exposure will cause serious civil and criminal ramifications. The remainder of the film centers not only around whether he’ll get caught, but on the impact of his addiction on his personal life.

Though I enjoyed the film, I’m not on board with the Oscar buzz. The film doesn’t stand up to its sweeping themes. The protagonist isn’t enough of a hero or enough of a villain. We certainly see the effect of his addiction, but it felt more similar to a documentary than a movie. But perhaps I’m a spoiled viewer. Roger Ebert, for example, enjoyed the underplayed elements of the film, saying, “it’s effective here how [Denzel Washington’s] performance never goes over the top but instead is grounded on obsessive control . . . . A lesser actor might have wanted to act them out. Washington depends on his eyes, his manner and a gift for projecting inner emotion.” Though I understand Ebert’s point, I miss the movie-magic days of “You Can’t Handle the Truth.”


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