Written by / 11/04/2012 / No comments / , , , , ,

DENZEL WASHINGTON TAKES FLIGHT

year: 2012 ***1/2
In the first five minutes of FLIGHT, we learn Denzel Washington’s commercial pilot Whip Whitaker is a man with a problem – he’s got a really bad hangover and needs to fly a plane. It’s his job, after all. He snorts some coke, struts down a hotel corridor to Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright" by Joe Cocker and winds up aboard an airliner with more problems than he has.

Director Robert Zemeckis provides two suspenseful scenes within the essential baseline: first when the plane takes off through a thunderstorm and then that crash we payed to see. And with the impressive special effects aside, most of the “action” remains in the cockpit as Whip takes creative measures, including turning the plane upside down, to avoid a nosedive. But FLIGHT doesn’t entirely live up to its name, or perhaps there's a double-meaning. Actually, most of the film takes place after the crash as Whip deals with two problems at the same time: his own alcoholism that could result in a really long prison sentence.

JG
Whip's addiction issues and a steamy romance with a beautiful junky, wielding her own gritty story during the first act, would seem somewhat cliché without the impending court date continuously established by Union rep Bruce Greenwood and sneaky lawyer Don Cheadle, each trying their best to keep Whip sober long enough to skate outta trouble... here’s where the post-crash suspense occurs.

John Goodman’s Harling Mays, a jovial drug dealer with his own theme song (The Stones' “Sympathy for the Devil”), tries too hard to steal scenes like only he can (redoing his ARACHNOPHOBIA scenes but as a dealer instead of an exterminator). Yet when he’s called back to save Whip from another hangover, you won’t help but smile, even for the wrong reasons... That's why he was cast, after all...

While FLIGHT is ultimately an AA propoganda peice, there's plenty of pro-drug sentiment ala the 1970's or Quentin Tarantino: Only a cocky cokehead would take such a risk; nothing but the right amount of drugs and some groovy tunes can put that kinda swing in your step; and we learn an effective (yet expensive) hangover cure. But what really matters is Denzel Washington’s genuine performance that, despite the surrounding talent and apt direction, feels like a one-man show. He plays a narcissist with only one care in the world: himself. And with so much trouble lurking around the corner, this makes for an intriguing two hours where even the slow moments count.
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