Whip Whitaker is a divorced father, whose alcoholic tendencies have left him completely alone. One faithful day the airplane which Whip is piloting suffers a catastrophic equipment malfunction leaving the plane in a tailspin. With some quick thinking, Whip is able to save the flight from crashing, saving the lives of nearly 100 people. Whip is regarded as a hero but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals Whip's extreme alcoholism which could leave to life in prision. Robert Zemeckis' Flight is very much a film about alcoholism and the denial that so commonly goes with it. The films depiction of alcoholism is sound, showing just how difficult it is for an alcoholic to put down the bottle. Denzel Washington gives his best performance in what seem like an eternity as Whip Whitaker, balancing his various emotions and addiction issues. While its portrait of alcoholism feels geniune, Flight falters because of a few questionable story decisions and lack of subtlety when it comes to its themes of denial and the notion that everything happens for a reason. Directly after the plane crash, Whip looks like he is going to give up drinking, refusing to partake with his buddy. All of that changes after learning of the toxicology report. The film paints it as if Whip was gonna beat it if not for this discovery, yet goes on the rest of the film to show how hard it is to actually beat alcoholism. Sure the sequence adds a great moment of drama and tension but this early moment of clarity is simply counter-intuitive to the message of the film. I also had issue with the climatic sequence in which Whip has his moment of change revolving around his inability to lie about his ex-lover, essentially shaming her name. The film never shows this relationship he shares as anything more than sexual so I had trouble buying that his love for this woman was enough to instill change. Flight is a solid tale of alcoholism that fails to be great because of some questionable story decisions and character motivations that were ultimately unnecessary to the story.
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