Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Flight

Man that Denzel Washington sure knows how to act.  He's probably going to go places in this industry.  There are only a few actors working today that will give you a solid performance every time they take on a role.  I think these four D's are probably at the top of the list:  DiCaprio.  Day-Lewis.  Damon. and Denzel.  In Flight, Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action directing, Washington gets the Tom-Hanks-Cast-Away treatment in a story that revolves around a pilot's struggle to battle alcoholism.

When Zemeckis commits to a character as he's done with Hanks (Cast Away and Forrest Gump), Jodie Foster (Contact) and Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future) it's usually done with a lot of thought and depth. Throughout the duration of Flight we are treated to a case study on personal battles, happenstance-heroics and the struggle to admit a problem.  Washington is thrust into the limelight (where he is so very comfortable) as Whip Whitaker, a pilot for a fictional airline that uses heavy binge-drinking as a crutch to forget about a failed marriage and a failed fatherhood.  Whitaker is totally hammered the night before he takes the fatal flight we've all seen in the excellent preview for this film.

While the plane crash itself is amazing to watch and brilliantly filmed by Zemeckis and crew, the real meat of this movie is watching Washington cope with the repercussions of realizing he's turned into a hopeless drunk. John Goodman (as a Lebowski-esque stoner friend), Don Cheadle (as a calculating lawyer) and Kelly Reilly (as a fellow drug addict and love interest for Washington) all help lift up Washington's performance by making it more realistic.  This is without a doubt the Denzel Show though and Washington is amazing once again in conveying addiction and delusional behavior.  By the end of the movie we all feel the weight of the lies he has spun through the entire film and the realistic ending helps ground the characters in an inevitable reality.

Zemeckis has delivered one of the best gritty looks into the world of addiction and it's great to see him back behind the camera and away from the computer (Polar Express).  Washington will be up for Oscar once again and just may take home his third career award for this performance.  Flight is one of the best movies of the year and marks Robert Zemeckis' most gritty and edgy movie to-date.  A pleasant 4.5 out of 5 JRs for this one.  Go out and see Flight right away.

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