Cinema Review: Flight
Currently on General Release at UK Cinemas.
With nominations for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for the 85th Academy Awards, Flight signals the return to live action movies for Robert Zemeckis since Cast Away. The question is, will it live up to the usual high standards associated with Zemeckis and is it worth watching?
After a night of sex and booze, the white lines are what airline pilot Captain Whitaker uses to wake up after a night of very little sleep. Moments after takeoff, Flight 227 to Atlanta experiences extreme turbulence but the real scare occurs later on in the flight when without warning, the plane nosedives with everyone ready to accept their fate. However a moment of genius from Captain Whitaker ensures most of the passengers on board survive. Investigations to his heroics uncover some disturbing truths that will change everyone’s life forever.
Let’s not forget, many years ago Denzel Washington could have ended up as Morgan Freeman part II (not that there is anything wrong with that) but he needed an identity, to be himself, not a carbon copy of the said great actor. The signs for so much more were there in Malcolm X (a film the Academy certainly were not ready for) then Training Day came along and blew everything out of the water. Nobody could quite believe Washington had that performance in him.
Years of less challenging badass roles followed but with Flight, Washington has finally got his teeth into a meatier, complex role. He plays the character brilliantly showing what an arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic idiot Captain Whitaker is. Yet the complexities are weaved within his persona as he saves 96 souls when it seems destined that the 102 people on board would be passing onto the other side.
Yet there’s more, Captain Whitaker is sick, which affects his everyday life, so should we have sympathy for someone who is clearly ill? Should we consider him a hero for saving all those lives or should we despise him due to his self-centred nature? There are these questions… and plenty more but needless to say Washington is brilliant. The support in the form of Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and John Goodman are solid but this is simply a vehicle for Denzel Washington, who seems to be back on top form reminding us that he is one of the best actors of our generation.
However (this is the cynical side of me) Flight seems to be a movie well and truly geared for awards season. Despite this feeling, Flight has a fair few faults and after an excellent opening 15 minutes or so, it loses momentum – thankfully saved only by Washington’s powerful performance. By the time the film enters its final 30 minutes where it picks up again, the damage is already done.
The fact is, Washington deserves his Oscar nomination and Flight, even though watchable was rightly overlooked for Best Picture nomination. Why? This should have been a masterpiece but it faltered, wasn’t quite good enough and not up to Zemeckis’ usual standards.
FMV Rating ***½