Flight was never on my radar, but over these past weeks I found myself dying to see it because of everything I was hearing. Most movies similar to this fall into the trap of having a drawn out and uninspired story of an anti-hero – or something of that nature – that is really only anchored by a strong lead performance. While a few things could have been tweaked, for the most part, the story is constructed nicely. Yes, the lead performance is great; what sets this apart is how you are kept engaged (for the most part) and the depth given to the character. So, the performance itself isn’t the sole thing keeping the character afloat; it’s surrounded by other elements. Flight flies into the already very crowded airport called: Best Movies of 2012.
Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a pilot and one day the plane he’s flying has a major malfunction. He pulls of a spectacular and impossible landing by flying the plane upside down saving nearly everyone on board. During the investigation of this horrible event, it turns out Whitaker was drunk when piloting. As it turns out, Whip has some serious problems. In the days leading up to his hearing, Whip tires to stop drinking, but the pressure is just too is strong. With everyone around him being supportive, in the end it’s up to Whip to do whatever he wants to do.
Robert Zemeckis is most known for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future; maybe Cast Away as well. Zemeckis has never tackled a more mature subject before. Furthermore, he has been in a slump recently. Cast Away came out all the way back in 2000, I’ve never liked/loved one of his movies since then. Well, I can’t say that anymore. The direction isn’t flawless and can be picked apart in certain areas, but so much is still done well. Flight really goes into the nature of being a hero. What does it mean to be a hero? The term hero is explored in great depth. While not entirely original, it avoids being cliched. I thought this same theme was explored just as good in End of Watch.
John Gatins did a solid job on the screenplay. He hasn’t written a surplus of screenplays; his most recent being 2011’s Real Steal (can’t believe he went from that to this). Without a doubt, this is a best for him. The main character is written almost flawlessly. I don’t want to ruin every trick he pulls, but just know he’s extremely intriguing. All the other characters are written good; not great. The dialog back and forth hits gold at times – especially scenes between Washington and Cheadle. Drama is heavy, as to expected with the story. You go through emotions without being manipulated and not once did I ever get bored. The one spot where the script fails is in any attempt at humor. It’s not all about the quality of the humor, overall it’s alright save for a scene or two. What it does is throw off the pacing and take you out of the story.
The performances were great; save for Washington, who is simply outstanding. Denzel Washington arguably gives his best performance. I might not go out and say it because the guy is great in everything, but it would have to be in his top five. How he embodies all the aspects of the character is marvelous. The role demanded a lot subtle touches along with being load, and both are played to great effect. Washington has a quality to where even if he’s playing a bad guy you root for him in a way; or just take a long time to get it though your head this guy isn’t very good. It’s amazing what he pulls off here. Easily one of the best performances of the year so far and would shock me if an Oscar nomination didn’t present itself. Don Cheadle, Nadine Velazquez, and Melissa Leo all do a fine job in their supporting roles. The same can be said about John Goodman, but he didn’t really belong.
What bothered me quite a bit is the soundtrack. The songs themselves are what they are, but it’s baffling why they’re placed in these scenes. The songs hit you over the head with what’s going on at that moment to a fault. Only one time did was the song placed well. Overall none of the songs did what they were supposed to do; they didn’t enhance the scene in any way or really fit with this particular movie. The soundtrack should have been scrapped and replaced with something completely different. Every time a song started to play it would take me out of what was going on. It isn’t the biggest problem around, still, enough to agitate me.
Plane crashes in movies have been done countless times. One of the best one’s I’ve seen came out earlier this year in The Grey. Just when I thought another one as great as that wouldn’t be seen for a while; let alone in 2012. As it turns out Flight gets the edge, it’s just phenomenal; you really can’t say enough about it. I’m used to airplanes, go on one a few times every year. However, I never like when it gets bumpy, it just gives you a nagging feeling that you could die at any moment in the back of your mind. Seeing Flight might make my next one problematic – now back to the scene at hand. It’s filmed perfect and makes you really feel you’re there with everyone else. One heck of a way to open – doesn’t close as well, but I don’t think it could have topped that whatever direction they went with for the end.