“Hey, don’t tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I’ve been lying about my drinking my whole life.”
– Whip Whitaker
Airline captain William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington) pilots a flight to Atlanta after a hard night of sex, drugs and alcohol with his fellow flight attendant Katerina Márquez (Nadine Velazquez). Coked up to be ready for the flight, it starts as any other day would, though the turbulence is bad and his co-pilot, Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty), wonders if Whip is alright. Whip consumes some vodka discreetly on the flight, and takes a nap. This is where his life is irrevocably changed. Ken Evans attempts to gear up for a landing, and the plane goes into a ridiculously scary dive. Whip is instantly awake, and even in his state takes over. After a nasty scare with the engines failing and the inability to get the plane righted, Whip makes the call to make a forced landing in a field, with some terrible consequences. He is dragged from the wreckage of the plane.
Waking in the hospital, he learns that of the one hundred and two passengers on board, six died; of which two of them were flight crew. His union rep and old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) is there to greet him. The National Transportation Safety Board has to undergo an investigation as to what went down on the plane that morning, and an NTSB official tells Whip that Katerina was among those who lost their lives in the unfortunate accident. Whipe calls in his drug dealer friend Harling Mays (John Goodman) to get him some cigarettes and get him some cash from his home for when he leaves the hospital. While under observation at the hospital, Whip meets with drug addict Nicole Maggen (Kelly Reilly) who is recovering from a heavy overdose. He instantly takes a liking to her and wishes to see her again.
Leaving the hospital and taking cover, avoiding his own home, Whip goes back to the family farm, and the first thing he does is get rid of all the pills and all the liquor in the house. Naturally, it does not last long after he goes to meet with Charlie and his lawyer, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), where he learns that a toxicology screen was performed on him at the hospital by the NTSB and they know about the drinking and the drugs. Angered, Whip leaves them and gets knackered, and he then moves on to visit Nicole, where he finds her moving out from her apartment, and takes her in to stay with him. The two begin a haphazard romance, which gets dark quickly when Nicole is intent on cleaning herself up while Whip will not even admit that he has a problem, though it has already cost him his now-ex-wife and teenage son. He needs to start getting ready for the NTSB hearing, where Ellen Block (Melissa Leo), the lead investigator, seems to have it out to prove his incompetence the day of the flight. Everyone is trying their damndest to get him ready and help him out, but he is not interested.
Will this NTSB investigation bring Whip to his knees? Will they pin the entire accident on his hindered abilities, or rule that it was a mechanical fault that led to the terrible crash? Will Whip ever admit he has a problem, and what will it cost him to figure out there is an issue?
Flight earns a 7/10. It was a good movie, well put together and was compelling to watch. This was definitely an outstanding role for Denzel Washington; you get so attached and involved in the life of Whip, and you feel for him. It is more pity than anything, because he is a product of his own circumstances, ones that he created purely on his own. His battle is a difficult one to watch, and you are permanently in his corner waiting for him to admit to his shortcomings. Denzel Washington truly impressed me with this role, and again demonstrated why he is such a great actor. Don Cheadle was great as Whip’s attorney, and he gave me a few of the laughs that I experienced in the movie. I must say that there were a few times where the script followed a simple and predictable recipe, but overall not that bad. The soundtrack for this film was also very remarkable, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.