If you have an airline flight scheduled soon, I recommend you do not go see the new Denzel Washington film “Flight” until you return. Otherwise the timing will be very bad.
Washington plays a veteran airline pilot named Whit Whitaker. Whit is a highly experienced pilot with a military background. He really looks the role, but behind the Ray Bans Whit has a dark secret. He is a hardline alcoholic and a drug user, and regularly breaks FAA and airline rules about drugs and flying. Early in the film, he’s even seen making himself a screwdriver in the galley of the airplane he is the Captain of, in flight. In addition, he’s having an affair with a flight attendant who is into drugs as much as he is. Neither of them lets work get in the way.
On a morning flight from Orlando to Atlanta, a mechanical malfunction with the aircraft causes Whit and his ultra-religious co-pilot to lose control of their airplane as it plummets to the ground. Whit manages a few bold actions that gets the airplane into a belly landing in a rural field, saving everyone on the plane except six passengers who get killed, including the flight attendant he is having the affair with.
John Goodman is wonderful as Whit’s drug supplier and friend. Goodman’s character is even supplying Whit with the “goods” while he is in the hospital recovering from injuries suffered in the crash.
While in the hospital, Whit meets a girl, played by Nadine Velazquex, who is a recovering drug addict herself. She moves in with Whit. She wants to get clean and sober. Whit is in big time denial.
Whit is initially considered a hero for keeping the fatalities in the accident to a minimum, until lab reports from blood drawn while he is in the hospital show he was legally drunk when the accident happened. Whit now comes face-to-face with saving his career, and even trying to reconcile with his son from a previous marriage. The National Transportation Safety Board is out to nail Whit and ground him for life. There is even the possibility of criminal charges. Don Cheadle plays an attorney hired to represent Whit.
Having a Commercial Pilot’s License myself, I saw a few flaws in this script that non-pilots won’t notice. But suffice it to say “Flight” is really not about aviation. It’s about a full-blown personal battle with addiction, and what happens when Whit finally hits his bottom, a bottom he can’t lie his way out of anymore. I thought Washington did a masterful job, but I’m afraid many people will think the advertising for this film doesn’t sell the true nature of the movie, and thus be disappointed. But I recommend “Flight” because it is a well-made motion picture featuring Denzel Washington at the top of his game.