A word of advice: Don’t go watchin’ this movie anytime close to air travel, and for heaven’s sake, don’t even THINK about watching it while ON a plane. Snakes are more comforting than the thought of an incapacitated pilot. I just finally got around to watching Flight so I could verify whether (or not) Denzel Washington’s performance lives up to best-actor buzz. Sure enough, he is excellent as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot who fails to recognize or admit that he’s a drug abuser and alcoholic.
Captain Whitaker manages to keep his addictions more or less ‘under the radar’ until he’s involved in a near-catastrophic accident mid-air. First hailed a hero, the subsequent investigation forces Whitaker to face some ugly truths about himself as both a man and a pilot. The movie’s flightpath is anything but straight, narrow and predictable. It can be intense and difficult to watch at times (and it is aptly rated ‘R’ for a hefty amount of drug/alcohol abuse and adult situations/nudity). Ultimately, it’s a character study more than anything else. And while the character development feels a bit rushed near then end of this rather long film, Washington remains compelling to watch throughout.
Just think about the “miracle on the Hudson”. Imagine if the pilot had been drunk and dozing (which he wasn’t of course) when those birds hit the plane’s engine, yet he still managed to pull off the heroic and insanely skilled feat that saved the lives of his passengers and crew? Flight kinda takes you there… forcing a debate over personal demons versus public trust. It’s a tough one. Even (or especially) with Denzel Washington in the cockpit.