Feature

Flight

A hero pilot wrestles with addiction.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (R) 

***

This “gritty, full-bodied character study” provides Denzel Washington with “one of the best parts of his career,” said Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. As Whip Whitaker, a cocaine-and-alcohol-addicted airline pilot, the 2002 Oscar winner hits tricky notes “that he’s never played before,” and his “large, layered performance” carries the film. Whitaker has stumbled untouched through life until a plane engine fails during a storm and his daring crash landing saves almost all of the jet’s 102 passengers. That scene “may be the hairiest, scariest, most thrilling plane crash in movie history,” said Richard Corliss in Time. But after the action-movie start, director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) takes up a different drama, tailing Whitaker into seclusion after a post-crash toxicology report threatens him with prison and he struggles toward sobriety. His out-of-control behavior seems out of character, though, and the climax “throws any pretense of reality to the wind,” said Lou Lumenick in the New York Post. Flight has a number of “individually fine scenes,” but they “at best add up to a good, not a great, movie.”

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