'Flight' Movie Reviews: Denzel Washington Gives a Powerful Performance

Critics say Denzel Washington soars in the new Robert Zemeckis movie.


“Flight” is the second movie in which Denzel Washington puts on a uniform and picks up a bottle. This time, though, he’s not working for the Pentagon as he was in “Courage Under Fire.” Instead, he’s an alcoholic commercial airline pilot named Whip Whitaker. After ingesting booze and cocaine and then taking the controls of an airplane, he crash lands the airplane through a storm safely in a field, saving all but a few of the passengers on board. Director Robert Zemeckis (who brought us the “Back to the Future” movies, as well as "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away," with another airplane crash) jolts us with a realistic plane crash, but the real horror unfolds as we plunge into the life of an addict.

Other cast membes include:  Tamara Tunie as Margaret Thomason, John Goodman as Harling Mays, Kelly Reilly as Nicole Maggen, Don Cheadle as Hugh Lang, Nadine Velazquez as Katerina Marquez, Bruce Greenwood as Charlie Anderson and Melissa Leo as Ellen Block.

Have you seen the film? Leave your review in the comments below.

Here's what critics are gushing about the magnetic Denzel Washington and the movie. Can you spell Oscar?

But "Flight" is at heart Denzel Washington’s show, and he makes the most of it. He digs deeply into the self-delusion of Whip’s invincibility and the self-loathing when his world literally comes crashing down around him. It’s a powerful performance that doesn’t need any of Zemeckis’ tricks to soar. Sean Means, Salt Lake City Tribune


Mr. Zemeckis is in very fine form in “Flight” and when he sends a camera whooshing down the aisle of the failing plane, the controlled movement both conveys the contained frenzy of the scene and visually echoes the chill racing along your spine. Here he achieves more than virtuosic display. By something more, I don’t mean the movie’s subject, which is, at its broadest, a tail-spinning alcoholic. Superficially, “Flight” is the sort of award-season entry that earns plaudits simply because its subjects are sanctified as important, serious. There’s seriousness in “Flight,” but not self-seriousness. And what distinguishes it is the balance of its parts and how its floating, racing cameras complement the nimble performances, rocking emotions and ups and downs of the story and music alike. MANOHLA DARGIS, The New York Times


Instead, “Flight” gets its movie magic principally through its performances, especially that of Denzel Washington, who stars as perhaps the most functional alcoholic in movie history. As Captain Whip Whitaker, Washington plays an airline pilot who, despite being hung-over, drunk and coked-up, manages to bring down a rapidly deteriorating plane in a daring emergency landing on what should have been a routine hop between Orlando, Fla., and Atlanta.
The crash sequence, a virtuoso set piece made with the digital artists from Zemeckis’ animated films, features the unusual but effective maneuver of briefly flying the plane upside down. The thrilling crash, which essentially opens the film, is a kind of carrot for moviegoers who are then lured into a powerful character study of Whitaker as he wrestles with his drinking problem while his heroics are called into question. He’s a Captain Sully with demons. Washington Post

"Flight" is showing at Beechwood Cinemas 11 and at Carmike Cinemas 12. The movie is rated R and runs 139 minutes.

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Stephen L. Rush November 05, 2012 at 10:55 AM
The movie takes 'Flight' in the beginning with astounding graphics and portrayal by a great cast of actors, and then takes a nosedive right into social commentary for the rest of the film. It starts with full frontal nudity on the part of a stewardess that aims to please, as if the audience needs a reason to see Denzel join AA. Then, just like the NTSB description of how the captain dealt with uncontrollable events, Alcoholics Anonymous inverts the ideology of a loving God and somehow morphs their deity preference into a malevolent judge. All this is made worse by the comical portrayal by whacked out weirdoes who make the flight crew look sane for getting high in the first place. Although the episodes of drunkenness and self deprecation are well played, the motive for a refusal to lie one more time is lost in the clouds following a series of random events disconnected from character flaws and fails to climax. The movie should be labeled with the yellow caution tape applied at the scene and shown only by professional counselors. It should not be labeled as a drama, but as Socially Underachieving Commentary with Klunky Storyline (SUCKS).


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