Flight: A Movie Review

Even if you rarely go to a theatre to see a movie, you will want to see “Flight” starring Denzel Washington who won an Academy Award for his performance in the movie “Training Day.”

In “Flight”, Denzel Washington plays a totally different character. He is an accomplished pilot, previously a stunt pilot who, at one time, sprayed fields with his dad in an old Cessna, a tiny plane with a single propeller. Now he flies high speed on a jumbo jet, hundreds of lives depending on his capabilities; he loves his work.

His name in the movie is Whip Whitaker and, in all respects, he lives up to his first name. He is one of the best pilots on any airline. No other pilot can duplicate his prowess at the controls of an airliner. He also parties hearty: drinks hard, stays up all night and snorts lines of cocaine to straighten himself out before a flight. In point, he’s always flying.

Another word that rhymes with flying is lying and he does plenty of that too. He made a wreckage of his marriage and sleeps with beautiful women who drink and drug the same way he does. Any more information would ruin the experience.

This is a defining movie in Denzel Washington’s career. He definitely should be nominated for an Academy Award for this flick. If you are in Recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, this movie is a must. It isn’t the way Whip Whitaker flies the planes that gives this movie its greatness, it’s the way he flies his life.

The question is: can he land his life the way he can land an out of control airplane? Is Whip Whitaker out of control and in a straight dive to the ground? Can he roll his life over like a stunt airplane and turn it around so he doesn’t crash and burn?

“God help me!” says Whip Whitaker at a crucial moment in the story. Those of us who are believers know one very important fact. If you want God to help, you have to let Him in.

Everything is in this movie. Don Cheadle, who played an honest and earnest cop in the movie Traffic, is Whip Whitaker’s lawyer, hired by the airlines because he is the best. Should he be nominated for ‘Best Supporting Actor’? That decision is up to you.

There are those who might say that a jet plane breaking up in air and totally out of control has more tension than a man in free fall. If you think that, then you don’t know what it is like to drink and drug, even when you don’t want to.

This is the most exceptional movie Denzel Washington has done since Training Day. And he’s been in a few action movies that ride on his star power alone. But in “Flight”, Denzel Washington, as Whip Whitaker, works for his money. Denzel is not an actor here. He IS Whip Whitaker and you can see it in his eyes.

Look into those eyes. Look deep. Do you see yourself peering out of the blackness? Denzel Washington, under the masterful Direction of Robert Zemeckis and the screen writing of John Gatkins, becomes the dark of the demon struggling to get back to humanity.

The tension takes place in a hotel room as Whip waits, guarded by his friend and lawyer, and there is a knocking at the door of an adjoining room. What lies behind the curtain? Is it the Devil himself? Folks, strap in your seat belts, we are going to roll the plane.

—Marc D. Goldfinger

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

Related posts