Movie Review: Flight
By Mackenzie Chase
Flight opens with airline pilot William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington) in a hotel room with Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez), a flight attendant, the morning he is due to fly to Atlanta. Short on sleep from the previous night of drinking and partying with Katerina, Whip opts for a breakfast of champions: more alcohol followed by cocaine to straighten himself up as he leaves to fly the plane.
Bad weather and other circumstances beyond Whip’s control cause both engines to fail, but Whip calmly talks through the steps he wants to take, while co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty) panics, clearly with no faith in their chances of surviving. Whip is a flying expert though, even while intoxicated, calmly instructing co-pilot and stewardess Margaret Thomason (Tamara Tunie) what to do in order to execute the successful crash landing.
Not even 30 minutes into the movie, and there’s already been full-frontal nudity, jaw-clenching action shots and plenty of drug use — which is what most popular movies tend to be composed of these days. Somehow, it still managed to not be overdone.
Whip is praised as a hero for saving all but six of the passengers, one of the deceased being Katerina, but when the toxicology tests taken in the hospital reveal his blood alcohol content was over twice the legal limit, the investigation of the plane’s failure is turned into a manslaughter charge. Facing a minimum of 12 years of jail time, Whip tries to quit in order to appear at his best when the press and law officials observe him, insisting he was the only pilot who could have pulled off such a miraculous landing.
This isn’t a movie about addiction, though — more like the predictable cycle most addicts go through and the internal struggle they face.
Washington acted the part perfectly, with the right amount of denial and anger about being charged with manslaughter. His acting was believable, as well as the portrayal of an alcoholic fighting against his addiction. When Whip is informed Katerina was among those who didn’t make it, he dumps out all his hidden and not-so-hidden bottles of alcohol once he returns from his stay in the hospital. The stress turns out to be too much and he eventually goes back to the bottle.
Despite the film’s well-executed performance, it lacked originality. If it weren’t for the opening scene of Whip crash-landing the plane, it would just be another movie about an alcoholic struggling to quit. The directing and performances were spot-on, causing the audience to reconsider parts of their lives. However, there are only so many ways a story about reformed addicts and “heroism” can be told.