DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
STARRING: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle
Starring Denzel Washington, Flight marks the return of Robert Zemeckis (of Forrest Gump and Back To The Future fame) to live-action cinema, having obsessed with perfecting film animation for the past 12 years. The difference, however, between Flight and his previous glories such as Cast Away is that it lacks the specific ingredient Zemeckis has offered to cinema throughout his career: fun.
Of course, not everything has to be fun or indeed funny, as Zemeckis proves in this miserable tale of an alcoholic pilot who manages to fly a plane upside down, while drunk and high on cocaine. In fact, put like that, it’s obvious why Hollywood jumped at the opportunity to make this movie. It sounds hilarious. I imagine there were early casting talks with Eddie Murphy. Despite this, the real problem here is that Zemeckis’ ability to bring light to scenes of darkness seems to have disappeared, a skill he used so often in the past. It is certainly nowhere to be found within Flight.
The film follows Washington’s character Captain Whitaker and his safe landing of an obviously CGI-constructed plane, saving the lives of many passengers while he’s at it. Despite it being generally accepted that no pilot could have done the same, Whitaker’s state while flying the plane puts his life in jeopardy once more. Here begins a long depressing struggle of guilt and denial and his adopting of Kelly Reilly, a drug addict he meets at the hospital who, for some unexplained reason, enters his personal life for a brief pointless moment. There are aspects of relief and at times the script, particularly in the final scene, is beautifully written, but Flight is inconsistent. It is in no way a bad film, but it certainly lacks the essential qualities evident in Zemeckis’ previous body of work to make it a good one.