¨Nobody could've landed that plane like I did.¨
I don’t think Denzel Washington has ever made a bad film; he has created some wonderful and memorable characters and always makes every film he´s in much better than it otherwise would´ve been. Flight would have been an average film, but thanks to Washington´s performance it is one of the best films of 2012. This is Robert Zemeckis´s first live action film since Cast Away after having worked on three animated 3D motion capture films (Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol) and he´s back with a bang. I hope Zemeckis continues to work with live action films because this is what he´s really good at. He has made a number of successful films such as Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. Despite being one of the best directors in the special effects department, he also knows how to make great dramas and stories that ring true. In Flight Zemeckis manages to mix special effects in the plane sequences with some great storytelling delivering a serious and emotional drama about a flawed hero. Zemeckis found the perfect man for his film in Denzel Washington who delivers each line with sincere and humane belief. Even his facial expressions showed so much about his character. This made the job so much easier for screenwriter John Gatins who didn’t have to shove every line of dialogue down the viewers’ throats because Washington´s performance made it easy for us to identify with him and his struggles. This performance has already earned a well deserved Golden Globe nomination for Washington and he simply continues to amaze me with his work.
I will be careful while I try to explain the plot because the film isn’t actually what you expect it to be about. I went into this film thinking it would be exclusively an action thriller where you had Denzel Washington playing the pilot who´s trying to save the day. The truth of the matter is that the thriller only takes place in the first few minutes; the rest of the film focuses on the drama that Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) faces once he survives the plane crash and deals with some problems of his own. This is more of a drama than an action thriller but it works really well thanks to Washington´s portrayal of Whip. He turns out to be a flawed hero because despite saving about a hundred lives, he´s an alcoholic. Despite the fact that no pilot would have been able to land the plane and save the passengers, fault has to be found for the incident and the few lives that were lost. Despite his heroic actions, Whip flew the plane under the influence of alcohol and drugs. This is where Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle) comes in as Whip´s attorney who represents the Pilot´s Association and wants to put the blame where it belongs: in the technical malfunction department. Whip also meets a recovering alcoholic in the hospital named Nicole (Kelly Reilly) with whom a love story ensues. John Goodman also has a supporting role as Harling Mays, a friend of Whip who´s always getting him the drugs he needs. And so the story has been set for the drama to take place.
When I say that Flight doesn´t turn out to be an action thriller and ends up being more of a drama about a hero struggling over his own addictions, I say it in a good way because it makes the film stand out above the rest of films in its genre. It is a film that is difficult to categorize because it goes to some unexpected places and instead of being a movie about a flight incident it really is a film revolving around a character who we sympathize with despite knowing he has some severe addictions and issues he has to face. It kind of deals with alcoholism in the same way that Crazy Heart did with Jeff Bridges´ character. I have to say that John Goodman´s performance was also really strong. Despite sharing very few scenes with Denzel he did manage to stay at the same level and delivered some of the few comic relief moments of an otherwise pretty dramatic and serious film. Flight is one of the top ten films of 2012 and Washington delivers his best performance since Training Day. This is a film you will want to see because Zemeckis knows what he´s doing and he´s at the top of his game. I hope he sticks with live action films and continues to work with Denzel because the two together are golden.