Flight ****

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Run Time: 138 Mins         Cert: 15

Synopsis: When a plane falls apart in the sky, its pilot (Denzel Washington) performs an emergency landing that saves most of its passengers. Following the incident, the events prior to it come back to haunt him.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future, Forrest Gump), “Flight” tells the story of William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington), a pilot who spends most of his time high on alcohol and drugs. He has a volatile relationship with his ex-wife and teenage son and is in a relationship with a flight attendant at the start of the film. On a short flight from Florida to Georgia, the plane he is flying malfunctions and Whip has to use extreme manoeuvres to land the plane.

The flight sequence is spectacular from the rainstorm to the mechanical problems that lead to the plane being expertly crash landed by Whip. After the flight at the start, the film becomes very character-driven and focuses on the moral question raised by these events: should Whip be recognised for his heroics or be condemned for his irresponsible behaviour? It also explores the issue of people’s trust in those who are responsible for their lives.

One thing that becomes clear throughout the film is that Whip is not a likeable character. As the story progresses, the audience sees him continue to engage in behaviours that destroy his life and have negative effects on others. This makes it difficult to wish for a good outcome despite having seen him save 100 people. At first it isn’t clear what Nicole’s (Kelly Reilly) role in the story is but her performance is good and the character is likeable. At first Whip appears to be the stronger of the two, but as time goes on it becomes obvious Nicole is the strong one.

Despite Whip’s destructive behaviour, he has support from his friend and union representative Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle). Both remain loyal and fight his case, which makes for good performances from both actors. Although John Goodman only appears for two scenes, his performance in the role of Whip’s drug dealer is entertaining and comic.

While it could have been predictable, the story unfolds in a way that leaves viewers unsure of the outcome until the very end. These twists and turns combined with a high standard of acting and a surprise ending make it a great movie and a must see for anyone that likes a mixture of action and character-driven drama.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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