To become a hero you must party all night, take drugs and drink excessively. In the morning you save hundreds of people from dying in a plane crash.
Nevertheless, Captain Whip Whitaker soon learns that being a hero is not enough when FBI investigations prove he is “drunk flying” and connect his behaviour to the death of six passengers. Suddenly, his secret life as an alcoholic cannot be kept secret anymore.
The film Flight is not about doing good or bad. In the end it is politics: having a good lawyer and important people behind you.
The acting is first-class, the clichés too obvious
There are three things that people should not expect from Flight: a whole film set on a plane, that convicting a drunk pilot is about justice and that Denzel Washington is as brilliant as he is in Déjà Vu (2006).
Washington, Don Cheadle, as his lawyer and Bruce Greenwood give excellent performances. It is the script, written by John Gatins, that makes the drama slightly unconvincing. Whitaker drowning his orange juice in vodka while welcoming passengers, and without anyone smelling it – possible. But can you imagine someone trying to reduce a hangover by sniffing coke right before the biggest court hearing in his career?
Comedy and drama mixed up
Gatins, who had personal experience with alcoholism, is known for writing a lot of comedy (Meet Dave, Shaggy Dog). Considering Flight is a drama, the humour is out of place at times. It seems as if the writer could not decide about the genre. There is nothing unusual about an addict who plays down or even jokes about the situation he is in but some sincerity might be appropriate. Whole scenes are built up realistically and emotionally only to be destroyed by an absurd I-don’t-care statement. Soon after, we return to the weak drama. Whitaker finally admits his addiction and says: “I lost everything, but at least I’m sober.”
Do we want reality or happy endings?
The question is: does this happen in real life? It certainly does. People go through all sorts of stages during the adventure of fighting addiction, from “I will never drink again” and “ One glass should not hurt” to “I am never going to make it”. Most films move only in one direction, from disaster to happy ending, but Captain Whittaker’s lack of strength, his zig-zag-way back to life is what makes Flight still worth watching.
Release date: 1 February 2013