In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board.
Before you start watching Flight, make sure you take a minute to bid a fond farewell to your fingernails. Because after you've sat through the excruciatingly tense and nerve-wracking action scene that comes just a few minutes into Robert Zemeckis' amazing movie, I can guarantee that they'll be bitten down to the bone.
The action sequence that I'm referring to is the single event around which the entire movie revolves: the emergency crash-landing of a newly-airborne passenger aeroplane that is piloted by William Whitaker (Denzel Washington), known to his friends as "whip". Whip's deft handling of the situation - through a barrel-roll manoeuvre that simply has to be seen to be believed - saves countless lives, making him a national hero and the subject of much media scrutiny. But when hidden truths about the pilot begin to emerge - including a drink and drugs problem that led to him being 'high' in more ways than one on the morning of the incident - the stage is set for a more ambiguous and thoughtful story to emerge.
This really does feel like a film of two parts - the incident itself and the fallout from it - so I'll deal with each one individually.
First of all, the amazing action sequence that shows the aeroplane getting struck down by technical problems and being piloted to the ground is simply one of the most arresting and attention-grabbing scenes I've ever seen on film. It's a cliché to talk about being on the "edge of your seat" while watching a particularly tense or engaging movie, but I can promise you that I was literally perched on the very edge of my sofa while watching the entire sequence. From takeoff-to-crash-landing, it only lasts a few minutes, but it feels like a lifetime of suspense and heart-stopping drama. I won't spoil exactly how it turns out, but suffice it to say that it changes Whip's life completely.
However, whether or not that change is for the better is what the second part of the movie is all about. Because when the authorities start to piece together the evidence from the troubled flight - including Whip's blood test results - they realise that the apparently heroic pilot was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the incident: a fact which could not only doom Whip's personal life and career, but could also spell financial disaster for the airline due to the insurance requirements for the crash.
With the help of a supportive lawyer (Don Cheadle, in an amusingly straight-laced role that's reminiscent of his character in The Guard), a friend he meets in hospital (a fairly unremarkable Kelly Reilly), and his drug-dealing best friend (a fantastic supporting performance from John Goodman), Whip uses the incident as a catalyst to try and turn his life around. But he soon realises that getting clean isn't as easy as it may seem, and that covering up the truth behind the crash - including the involvement of an air hostess with whom he was having an affair - might ultimately be as damaging as preserving his heroic image.
I won't spoil how the story plays out, except to say that Denzel Washington is required to go through just about every emotion imaginable over the course of this movie - and somehow, he manages to make every scene utterly convincing and compelling. Most impressively, he manages to turn a potentially unsympathetic character like Whip into a truly three-dimensional person who we care about, even when he's acting irresponsibly and reprehensibly.
A subplot involving his estranged family helps to raise the stakes for Whip's personal life, while a constant onslaught of interrogation from the authorities piles on the professional pressure, to the point where it would be easy for the film to fall into melodrama and hyperbole. But - ironically enough for a movie called Flight - Washington always keeps things grounded with a central performance that carries you all the way through to the end of the movie, ensuring that you stick alongside Whip on his difficult and unpredictable journey without ever losing interest or sympathy.
My only real criticism is that the very end of the movie doesn't quite manage to stick the landing, so to speak - sacrificing some of the moral complexity of the rest of the film for a more conventional and moralistic conclusion than I would have expected. But I'll only knock off a single star for that - because up until that point, Flight provides an incredibly compelling story that somehow manages to make the personal drama of a flawed individual just as compelling as the jaw-dropping action sequence that begins the film. And once you've experienced that stunning opening act for yourself, you'll realise just how much of an achievement that is.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Academy Award winner Denzel Washington stars in this "riveting and powerful nail-biting thriller" from Robert Zemeckis, the Academy Award-winning director of Forrest Gump and Cast Away. Airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) miraculously lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe. But even as he's being hailed for his heroic efforts, questions arise as to who or what was really at fault. Action-packed, engrossing and powerful, Washington's performance is being hailed as "a triumph" and one that "will be talked about for years. Actors Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Kelly Reilly, Tamara Tunie, Boni Yanagisawa, Adam Tomei, Dane Davenport & Bruce Greenwood Director Robert Zemeckis Certificate 15 years and over Year 2012 Screen Widescreen 2.40:1 Anamorphic Languages English - Dolby Digital (5.1) Additional Languages English Audio Description Subtitles English for the hearing impaired ; Danish ; Swedish ; Norwegian ; English ; Finnish ; Dutch Closed Captions Yes Duration 2 hours and 13 minutes (approx) Region Region 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.
Denzel Washington stars in this Academy Award-nominated drama as an airline pilot who finds himself in the line of fire. Faced with a catastrophic event whilst on a routine flight, Captain William Whitaker (Washington) averts a major disaster by performing a skilled emergency landing that saves the lives of everyone on board. Proclaimed a hero by a grateful public, Whitaker's world is unexpectedly thrown into turmoil in the days that follow, when the FAA investigation into the aircraft's crash leads the authorities to conclude that Whitaker had alcohol in his system during the flight. Now, faced with the prospect of a life sentence, and with a hungry media smelling blood, Whitaker finds himself forced to go on the offensive to fight for his future.