Flight (♦♦♦♦½)

William “Whip” Whitaker, a commercial pilot, is an alcoholic who also consumes drugs recreationally. The night before a flight he has a drinking, drug consuming “orgy” with Trina, a flight attendant who frequently flies with him. In the morning, after a sleepless night, he gets high on cocaine and goes to fly as usual, only it turns it out the flight is anything but ordinary.

Shortly after takeoff, they encounter turbulence and Whip takes the plane to higher altitude than recommended; the pressure is sky high. Thirty minutes before landing, the co-pilot makes a maneuver to take the plane off autopilot and chaos ensues. The plane starts nose diving. In a desperate maneuver, they invert the plane and when they turn it back, they are gliding over an isolated field, and just before the crash, a wing of the plane collides against the steeple of a church and the plane brakes in two but doesn’t explode.

The crash kills six people, including two crew members, and someone must be held accountable. Is the surviving of the passengers a miracle or wreck-less behavior with a lucky outcome? Unbeknownst to Whip, the hospital takes samples of blood, hair and saliva and runs a toxicology test on them, and off course they find out he used cocaine and had an alcohol level in blood three times over the legal limit for driving. The pilots’ union brings a brilliant lawyer on board to help Whip be cleared of possibly four counts of manslaughter that may send him to prison for life.

One of the first actors I wrote about in this blog was Denzel Washington. In my opinion, most of his performances are top-notch, award winning really, but honestly Flight takes the cake; this movie is a sundae with a cherry on top. Denzel’s performance as an alcoholic is so nuanced that the audience gets to watch a man who has gone to the Gates of Hell and has come back by sheer willpower and bad luck with a positive spin. Denzel Washington’s acting in Flight is a tour-de-force, Oscar winning material, the best acting by a male I have seen in this and in several years.

I hope Denzel Washington isn’t snubbed at the Oscars this year as he was with The Great Debaters and American Gangster; his performance in Flight is nothing short of remarkable.

Flight is directed by Robert Zemeckis. Also co-star John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Reilly.