Since 2007’s American Gangster, Denzel Washington hadn’t been in anything “Oscar worthy” (not putting down The Book of Eli which was a great film), until Director Robert Zemeckis came along with Flight.
Washington plays Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot who is also an alcoholic and drug abuser. After a boozy 3 day all-nighter, he goes into work the next morning to captain the 9am flight to Atlanta. After a really rough storm, the plane unfortunately crashes, killing only 6 people because of his heroic act and flight skills. Being the hero of the town, knowing only Whitaker could have done what he had done to practically save the 100 plus lives, an investigation has to take place to find out why the plane had crashed. As co star Don Cheadle mentions in the film “Some one has to take the blame”. This evidently brings to light some home truths.
The film is like a 2 part series. The first part beginning with this spectacular event of actually seeing everything that went on throughout the plane from beginning to end, almost like a disaster flick. When watching it, you almost can not breathe and try to anticipate what is going to happen next. It really and truly does catch your attention making you panic a little as they take you on this superbly shot rollercoaster of a ride. The second part is like a drama, with that Crazy Heart feel to it (without the singing obviously). It turns into this character building session where we learn more about the character of Whitaker, his divorce and his son that he never visits. Zemeckis really takes us deep into the core of this self-loathing man.
Washington absolutely nailed the character of Whip, it was totally made for him. He was able to mould himself into this self destructing hero, who in fact needed help from himself. And although a tragic incident had happened, it may actually be the solution, depending on the path he decides to choose. The film is a crazy but realistic dilemma and has huge potential during awards season. One of Washington’s best performances to date.