It's been over a decade since Robert Zemeckis has entered the live action side of filmmaking with What Lies Beneath; over the past years, he has earned a strictly visual effects concerned label after extensive work in the motion capture business of animation, but can the acclaimed director regain his footing where he began? Flight shall give us the answer!
Renowned aircraft pilot William 'Whip' Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is involved in a disastrous plane crash which, thanks to his expert handling of the situation, leaves only six of the 102 passengers on board killed. Hailed as a hero for his brave actions, the tables soon turn when it is discovered he had alcohol in his bloodstream on the day of the incident; as controversy arises and begins to spiral out of control, the captain's own health begins to deteriorate, leading him to decide what truly needs to be done to allow himself to be at peace.
The visual splendor in Flight is hardly dependent on the wisdom of CGI effects - though a gripping and excellently shot and paced crash sequence immediately injects an exciting tone into the film, the remainder of this two hour fare is handled through some fantastic cinematography and editing combined with top performances from every lead actor, especially Washington himself. Zemeckis delves into the frame of mind of the cast (some less so, mind you) to great effect and the end result is a pleasantly character driven drama with some genuine tension to it.
It seems pretty obvious based on all the advertising and the general understanding of the plot upfront that Flight is hardly at all about the flight itself. Well, maybe that's a bit strong, but the main set piece of the crash is handled in the first twenty minutes of the film and the remainder delves into the character of Whitaker himself as well as his problems with alcoholism, the controversy and eventual action upon his apparent drunkeness during the flight and his relationship with addict Nicole Maggen (Kelly Reilly). This multi stranded narrative can sometimes fail to converge organically, and the end result is a lack of focus and boredom upon the viewer. Flight is not over quick - at around 135 minutes it really is a beast, and towards the climax of this admittedly very enjoyable film you can feel the run time slowly trying to make you go to sleep.
Flight is a well made film with excellent character development (though FUCK John Goodman's stupid character) and a well plotted script. It cruises into the zone of boredom a few times and isn't without moments that maybe needed a second trip to the editing room, but any fan of a good, adult oriented drama is going to enjoy it. Recommended.