Flight is an example of how well you can tell a familiar story if you have a great cast, good performances and an amazing set-piece, action sequence. Flight doesn’t actually offer anything new or say anything surprising about addiction that hasn’t been done in many movies before it, but it manages to package something familiar in a very interesting way.
It’s worth watching Flight for the set-piece alone. Within the first quarter of the movie, one of greatest “plane-crashes” imagined on-screen takes place. It has everything: cool effects, amazing camera-work and CGI, a fantastic performance from Denzel Washington and those around him, and enough spectacle and drama to literally to keep you at the edge of your seat. It seems implausible, is probably completely ridiculous, but the whole sequence and the actions of Washington’s pilot will have most people exhilarated and amazed with the first half hour of the movie.
This is also the film’s main problem. Nothing else in the movie ever matches the amazing opening act. It is never boring but more underwhelming. The movie isn’t actually about a plane crash but is about the ramifications of addiction and how it affects two very different lives. It encompasses a court case, where Denzel Washington will probably go to prison for being drunk, even though it may have been the reason he saved the plane. It’s a unique approach but beyond this revelation, isn’t offering much that is fresh.
The movie keeps your attention with Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly’s characters dealing with alcoholism. You like both of them and want them to succeed, especially Washington. Flight is another successful, sometimes incredible performance for Washington and the reason he is the go to guy for dramatic performances, as well as the more action focused ones.
There is also ample support from both Don Cheadle, as Washington’s lawyer, and the always under-used but never poor John Goodman, who is still managing to steal every scene and practically every movie that he is in. It still isn’t enough though and at a run time over two hours, there will be moments when you find yourself wondering where the film can go next.
It does reach a great finale and is very well structured but hardly surprising. The path that Washington’s character takes is one that can only have one destination and I doubt many people won’t see the outcome of the movie a good twenty minutes before it actually happens.
Overall, Flight is a well-packaged, great acted but quite stale movie. It is worth watching for that amazing opening act and Washington will keep you interested for a long while with his great performance, but the promise the movie makes in the first half is never delivered in the second, even if the cast supports the familiar story brilliantly.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)