NewsBlaze search box Daily News header

Flight Movie Review

By     get stories by email

It's impossible not to notice regarding this year's 50th anniversary New York Film Festival 2012, that no less than two coincidences are readily apparent. The first and far less surprising, is the book-ending of the Festival with two Hollywood movies - 20th Century Fox's Opening Night feature, Life Of Pi. And the Closing Night selection from Paramount Studios, Flight.

But a more curious circumstance, is that the Festival would seem to be aiming for an entrance and exit more in the nature of a bang rather than a whimper, with both movies involving catastrophic accidents. In the case of Life Of Pi, a shipwreck at sea, and with Flight a plane crash. And by extension, a traumatic experience exploding as well, so to speak, the existential universe of each protagonist respectively.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

With my critique of Life Of Pi posted previously, the focus here is on Flight. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Flight is a combo disaster movie and moral drama delving into the ensuing fate of Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), following the crash of a passenger jet he was piloting. Navigating the plane to a relatively secure crash landing because it resulted in few fatalities, Whitaker is hailed as a hero who saved lives.

Hero Becomes Demon

But when a blood test during his hospitalization for minor injuries reveals alcohol and cocaine in the functioning addict's system, a major shift results in possible charges of manslaughter for those who did perish. Even though a malfunctioning plane compounded by bad weather had been ascertained.

At the same time, the brash and chronically boozed up Whip is hard pressed to find anyone to help in his defense. Beyond the airline company attempting to dodge passenger litigation by any means, and the pilots union intent on clearing him of charges no matter what, with the help of a scheming hired gun (Don Cheadle).

Which is unfortunately the second Hollywood movie within weeks following Won't Back Down, portraying unions as lacking moral fiber and standing up for members over any principles. Which is more than a bit strange, considering the scorn perpetually heaped upon Hollywood by the right wing for being too liberal. Though financial disputes with their own film unions and the tendency to migrate to nonunion states to make their movies instead, may be at work in that regard here.

But getting back to the issues of culpability that linger within a narrative that too readily ties up multiple loose ends, and without giving too much away, Whip's ultimate moral choices address his personal problems, though seemingly giving the plane manufacturer at fault a pass.

Along with an admonishing Christian fundamentalist co-pilot Evans (Brian Geraghty) who nearly condemns Whip to eternal damnation after the fact for always having been at the controls of the plane chronically drunk (while also seeming to have somewhat of a hand in helping rehabilitate the miscreant by pressuring Whip into praying with him).

Silence Was A Missed Opportunity

Though the reality that Evans and the other sympathetically depicted crew were aware that Whip was always at the helm of those planes under the influence which put passengers in grave danger, and said nothing but faced no consequences themselves, stands out as quite a narrative omission.

Questionable plot details aside, the crash sequences in Flight are nothing less than visually and viscerally electrifying. Along with Denzel's complex portrayal of a man caught up in a complicated moral quandary, that is simultaneously dramatically explosive and nuanced.

Paramount Pictures
Rated R
2 1/2 stars

Flight is the Closing Night Feature this year for both the NY Film Festival and the Philadelphia Film Festival. More information about those film festivals is online respectively at:

To see the trailer of Flight:

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact Prairie through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Prairie Miller.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

When Hollywood releases a violent action film, 'loosely-based' on truth, it's certain that Hollywood is about to play fast and loose with the historical record.
Prairie Miller has a conversation with Will Smith, David Morse and Concussion director, Peter Landesman, plus news of the Zomba Prison project and Star Wars.
The Women Film Critics Circle is a gathering of national and international women's voices presenting a fresh and differently experienced viewpoint from the primarily white male dominated film criticism world.
Surreal sequences instead of theme, and pretentious vinaigrettes replace what should be a slice-of-life experience. It is art house, without the art, tedious to watch.
This true story about a transgender man suffers badly from overkill. At two hours, it's too long; the music is too dramatic; the actors try too hard and there's much too much crying.
Prairie Miller talks to Elizabeth Hurley about The Royals, and to Nina Paley, artist, filmmaker, animator, cartoonist and free culture copyright activist.


NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month

Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

Copyright © 2004-2016 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site