When pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) miraculously lands a plummeting plane in an open field all eyes are on him and a hero is born. However the newly found spotlight has a dark side too, as it shines a light on Whitakers alcohol and drug abuse. While the authorities try to find out what caused the crash, Whitaker lobbies to ensure that no who learns the truth about his addiction.
Flight may have been advertised as an action thriller but in reality it is a character–driven drama about a man struggling to admit to himself that he has a problem. Sadly it just isn’t a very good drama, although Washington is capable in his role as the flawed Whitaker. The plot is not very strong and the writing is littered with clichés.
Thankfully there is an array of good actors, even in minor roles, to distract from the poor writing and sallow characters. Don Cheadle as Hugh Lang, Whitaker’s union lawyer and Bruce Greenwood as Charlie Anderson, Whitacker’s only friend, help liven up the sluggish flow of the story, even if it seems that Cheadle has been paid to say “kill the tox report” as many times as possible. A pleasant comic relief is John Goodman as Whitacker’s dealer Harling Mays, with his Rastafarian bag filled with drugs. Sadly Kelly Reilly as Whitacker’s love interest Nicole is underused and does not add to the story at all.
The strongest and most captivating sequence of Flight is undeniably the plane crash scenes. However as this happens about a third into the film the viewer is left deflated watching a functioning alcoholic fall off the wagon again and again till he finally can admit to himself what is wrong. And even though it is honest in its depiction, no pity party for the leading man but no routing for him to sober up either, Flight is very mundane.
Director Robert Zemeckist may have had good intentions but to lure action fans into buying tickets with trailers filled with misdirection seems a little unfair. So disappointment is guaranteed, as Flight just isn’t very good and probably would have been better as the action thriller the viewer expected to see.