November 2, 2012
2 hours 18 minutes
The last movie Robert Zemeckis has done that wasn't a motion capture movie was 'Cast Away' back in 2000. The last time one of Zemeckis' films had been rated R was in 1980 with the comedy 'Used Cars.' After years of being attached to a number of decent projects, none of which could compare to the films that put him on the map, Zemeckis decided to come back into live action filmmaking with a new drama called 'Flight.' 'Flight' has a cast filled with A-listers, including Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman. It isn't a revolutionary achievement like 'Forrest Gump' or 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit.' It's also not an animated spectacle like 'A Christmas Carol' or 'The Polar Express.' What's great about 'Flight' though is that it isn't trying to be anything more than a fascinating look into the life of an alcoholic caught up in a huge predicament. Thanks to the strong performance from Washington, along with a well-written script, 'Flight' is a nice return to quality filmmaking from Robert Zemeckis, as well as one of the more interesting character studies of 2012.
Whip Whitaker was just supposed to perform a routine flight from Florida to Georgia as always. While in midair during the flight, the plane suddenly malfunctions and it falls straight to the surface. Whitaker miraculously lands the plane in such a way that nearly everyone on board survives the crash. Now he's being considered to be an American hero and such. The problem that still has to be solved is if it was the plane that malfunctioned or was it Whip himself that caused the crash to happen. The reason why Whip is being targeted at is because he had alcohol in his system during the flight, which could mean life in prison if he was responsible for the 6 deaths out of 102 passengers on board.
All of the buzz surrounding Denzel Washington's performance in this film is 100% well deserved. Throughout the entire movie, Denzel either has an alcoholic beverage in his hand or is drunk to an extent. In the opening scene alone, the audience sees him with a woman, spewing f-bombs, and snorting coke like there's no tomorrow. There are scenes with Washington while he's in a drunken state where my jaw just dropped because of how powerful he is. An Oscar nomination is definitely needed for his performance, and maybe even a win if there isn't too much competition this year. Washington gives a performance that is bold, ferocious, and fantastic.
Don Cheadle was good as always playing the lawyer of Whip. In my opinion, I felt that his character, along with Bruce Greenwood's character (Whip's associate), could have been played by anyone. Nevertheless, both actors were very good in the movie and both impacted how Whip turned out in the end. John Goodman (for the two scenes he had in the film) was the best part of the supporting cast. Not only was he the comedic relief because he spewed out some hilarious lines, but Goodman was funny just because of his look, which consisted of a robe, sunglasses, and a ponytail. In every scene, Goodman stole the show, and I think audiences will feel the same way as well.
Kelly Reilly is also really good as a drug addict who gets romantically involved with Whip. She's meant to carry some of the more dramatic elements in the film, and luckily she does it successfully. The performance isn't groundbreaking by any means, but it does show how much range this somewhat unknown actress has, which could hopefully get her into more movies. As great as the supporting cast was, none of them will get any awards recognition like how Washington's performance will. The supporting performances aren't awards worthy to begin with, but I would personally love to see Goodman get a nom for the 10 minutes of screen time he has.
While the script, written by 'Real Steel' writer John Gatins, is good, it does have some flaws to it. The prominent flaws in the script lie in the final 15 minutes of the movie. Without spoiling anything, the relationship with Whip and his kid in the movie doesn't feel well developed for the kid to appear in the final scene of the movie. However the first scene with Whip and his ex-family was, in my opinion, the movie's most powerful scene. The outcome of certain characters in the movie would have never happened in reality, which is what this movie is trying to portray. That was a personal gripe since this movie was succeeding at feeling real for the first 2 hours and had me on the edge of my seat at times.
Speaking of time, the movie, which clocked in at 138 minutes, felt pretty long at times and dragged a bit. It isn't good when people are checking the pain in their butt rather than watching the movie presented in front of them. Regarding the directing, Zemeckis did a good job directing. My thing with him is that, aside from the spectacular plane crash sequence, it didn't feel like a Robert Zemeckis movie at all. 'Forrest Gump' and 'Back to the Future' had a feel to them where one could feel that it was a movie made by Robert Zemeckis. With 'Flight,' it just felt like a standard drama that could have been made by anybody. While he did do a good job, I hope that Zemeckis can make a live action movie that definitely feels like a movie he made.
This movie will without a doubt, get a lot of Oscar buzz this season. With the stellar performance by Washington and good direction from Zemeckis, it's almost impossible for 'Flight' not to be considered for any awards. The plane crash is spectacular and frightening, and the writing (aside from the father/son relationship and the final 15 minutes) was very good. I'm not sure if Denzel will win the Oscar, but it will be a crime (metaphorically speaking) if he isn't nominated for his performance in this movie. Here is fine proof that Robert Zemeckis, despite losing that certain feel he has in his movies, can still make great movies that can be critically and hopefully financially successful. 'Flight' is thrilling, powerful, well acted, and one of the better dramas to come out in 2012.