Flight: Film Review
Most people who watch the trailer for Robert Zemeckis’s new film Flight will think it is a movie about a pilot and the airline industry. Thanks to the expert performance put in by Denzel Washington, it is anything but. The plot is long, complicated, and at times terrifying, but here’s the basic gist: an alcoholic airline pilot named Whip (Washington) manages to save a plane full of passengers from certain death by crashing their nosediving aircraft into a church below. Miraculously, only six people are killed.
Whip is hailed as a hero, until a blood-alcohol test reveals that he was legally drunk, thus spurring the wrath of FAA authorities (played by Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood) that if upheld in court could mean life in prison for Whip. Whip doesn’t take any of this lying down – he takes it in a drunken stagger, reaching for his pistol and calling out to the demons that he confuses for the ghosts of those who died in the crash. He is one crazy, super hot mess.
The movie is intriguing in the sense that it forces us to examine the nature of hero-building and hero-worship in our own culture; it also asks us to reconsider why we don’t let our heroes have their human flaws before we insist on tearing them down. Mostly, it makes us marevl at the creation of Whip, one of the most fascinating and complex movie characters to emerge from the Hollywood stables in quite a while. Thanks to Washington’s resolute control and Zemeckis’s willingness to really peer into the cracked version of his own reflection, Whip becomes as dimensional and mythical as any modern public figure. In this day of instant celebrity and 15 minutes of fame that seemingly never end, it makes us question why the spotlight attracts as much as it destructs.