Denzel Washington is an actor who, in my opinion, is worth the admission price alone. Admittedly, I didn’t bother going to see Safe House cos it looked shite, but he has such natural screen charisma that, even in sloshy films like Unstoppable, he’s a wonderful actor to watch. And Flight is no exception; it’s a white-knuckle thriller that turns into a slow burning drama, whilst the only consistency is how excellent Washington is. Whilst the story cannot completely avoid cliché, it is bolstered by the fact that its central character presents the audience with a perfect moral conflict and, with that, Flight really gets off the ground.
Washington (Uncle Denzel to me) plays Whip Whittaker, airman extraordinaire, who somehow manages to land a doomed 747. He also has a massive drinking problem which is, in fact, the film’s point of inspection. Cynicism needs to be left at the door a bit, because the character arc is somewhat predictable and his relationship with an unstable drug addict, played by England’s own Kelly Reilly, is straight out of the ‘fall and resurrection’ movie textbook. But if you can get beyond the identikit elements of the film (and that includes ignoring music you’ve heard 1000 times before) then what’s left is a really fun drama. ‘Fun drama’ sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it’s interesting to see a heavy subject matter treated with a certain lightness and sense of spectacle and it sure makes a nice antidote to Amour.
That sense of spectacle climaxes at the beginning, with the crash that acts as the catalyst for Flight’s narrative. It’s a wonderfully executed sequence, which, no matter how many times you’ve seen the trailer, grips you with the same sort of tension as Rust and Bone’s under the ice sequence. It’s Robert Zemeckis’ finest cinematic moment in years and the films strongest sequence. Where to go from there might seem like a dilemma, and the film chooses moral conflict as its life-force and, whilst this might frustrate some, it’s something that makes for a powerfully watchable film which, no pun intended, is quite intoxicating.
Flight is a return to form for Zemeckis and Washington and is enormous fun, even though it’s about plane crashes and drug and alcohol addiction.
|Starring:||Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman|
|Running Time:||2 and a bit hours|