Storyline plummets to tedium

22:52, Feb 12 2013

Movie review : Flight (M)

If you're aged between one and 100 then chances are at some point in your life you've had a relationship with an addict.

I've known a few alcoholics, potheads and junkies in my time and they can be good fun, especially at first when their devil-may-care attitude, spontaneity and all round unpredictability can be entertaining.

Unfortunately the novelty always wears off and before long most of them become predictable in their unpredictability, exhausting in their self-absorption and, quite frankly, boring.

Addicts are a little bit like the movie Flight.

Starring Denzel Washington as a pilot named Whip Whitttaker, Flight appears from the trailer to be a movie about heroism and miraculous piloting skills but it's actually about a drunk and his inability to face up to his addiction.


The film opens brilliantly.

We meet Whip and a seriously sexy flight attendant named Katerina in a hotel room after a night of debauchery. Being seriously hung-over and with an airliner to fly, Whit does a couple of lines of coke, chucks on his uniform and heads to work.

The flight turns out to be a rough one.

First, the plane with 102 souls on board hits major turbulence.

Then, once clear of the rough weather, it suffers a major mechanical malfunction and plunges into a death dive. Now, obviously, the film doesn't end there so I'm not giving anything away by telling you that Whip pulls some seriously impressive moves and saves most of the passengers and crew.

Problems arise when a toxicology report reveals he was hammered at the time, which, given that people died, could mean Whip spending the rest of his life in jail.

Already a double Oscar-winner, Washington has been rightfully nominated again for his performance in Flight.

Whip is a complex guy; part hero, part stud, part slob, part genius, part charmer and part big baby.

He is a character who required an actor with some serious dramatic chops and Washington delivers big time.

The rest of the cast is top drawer too. Don Cheadle is excellent as the lawyer given the job of keeping Whip out of jail, John Goodman is classic as Whip's drug dealer, Bruce Greenwood is his reliably quality self as a union rep, English actress Kelly Reilly does nice work as a druggie Whip falls for and newcomer James Badge Dale briefly steals the show as a philosophical cancer patient.

Flight's screenplay by John Gatins is also up for an Oscar, which comes as no huge surprise as it features a few excellent exchanges and feels so authentic you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a film based on a true story.

Where Flight loses altitude is its structure.

The film's most compelling sequence takes place in the first 20 minutes and nothing that follows comes anywhere near matching its intensity.

As a result the subsequent acts feel comparatively dull, and even a little bit boring.

I couldn't help thinking how much more suspenseful it might have been had its director Robert Zemeckis saved most of his amazing plane crash until the end.

The film's dramatic climax is meant to be a hearing into the cause of the crash.

Zemeckis could have unveiled all the awesome stuff in a flashback, thereby upping the emotional stakes of the hearing and keeping his audience engaged to the end.

Bottom line: Occasionally great but mostly dull.

NB: Flight is coming soon to Top Town Cinemas.

The Marlborough Express