Robert Zemeckis has left “The Polar Express” and other animated projects behind and returned to live action drama with “Flight”. Denzel Washington has proven once again that he is one of the top film actors in the business with a masterful portrayal of a deeply complicated man, pilot Whip Whitaker. We know Whip has serious addiction issues with the opening R-Rated moments of the film as he rallies from a night of debauchery with a member of his flight crew (Nadine Velazquez played the stripper/motel maid in TV’s “My Name is Earl” and let’s just say she does not have body issues here). Whip helms a doomed flight from Florida to Atlanta and his heroic actions, still under the influence, say something about his skills as a functioning alcoholic and the flight portion of the film says something about Zemeckis’s skill as a director. But there are deaths, and questions are just around the corner, so Whip’s pilot union brings in Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle to guide him through the tough questions of Melissa Leo’s National Transportation Safety Board. Denzel has the tough job of portraying a really nasty guy, a pro at deception and denial, who lives for the next drink, no matter the cost, he’s divorced and estranged from his family, while at the same time creating a character that leaves us hoping for some kind of recovery. He meets a kindred spirit in Nicole, played by a very good Kelly Reilly, but even she can’t turn Whip around. Whip’s dealer, played by a terrific John Goodman, gives the film balance with his manic and comic portrayal. We really don’t know what’s going to happen until the last moment, but one thing is a lock, and that’s another Oscar Nomination for Denzel Washington.
My GPA: 3.8