warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Denzel Washington Soars In "Flight"

Dian Qi |
November 4, 2012 | 7:23 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

"Flight" movie poster (Paramount Pictures)
"Flight" movie poster (Paramount Pictures)
Denzel Washington gives a sensational performance in Robert Zemeckis's newest drama, "Flight" (in theaters now). Though a competent film, "Flight" may not be able to compete among the ranks of Zemeckis's older classics like "Forrest Gump" and the "Back to the Future" trilogy. 

Flight follows the story of Whip Whitman (Denzel Washington), a first-rate veteran pilot who also happens to struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse. After miraculously landing a faulty plane and saving most of the souls aboard, Whip is considered a hero. Or is he? Though the crash was spurred solely by the plane's own mechanical malfunctions, difficulties arise when blood tests show Whip having alcohol and cocaine in his system while operating the plane.

SEE ALSO: Robert Zemeckis Talks New Film, "Flight"

The film is a dramatic piece tailored to emphasize Washington's acting abilities, and he delivers with great finesse and balance--his performance capitalizing off of character subtleties. An Oscar nod looks foreseeable.

Despite Washington's performance, the film slightly squanders its momentum after its thrilling opening plane crash sequence. The scene stimulates the audience's adrenaline, leaving us prepped for a film that would offer just as much plot excitement as the first scene. However, the audience is held for the rest of the film almost solely by Denzel's performance and not much else. 

The plot does not thicken as one would expect, and there isn't much more to reveal about the story than what was already outlined in the trailer. The story often feels interrupted by subplots and tangents that deal with other heavy issues like religion, love, and family. Midway through the film, Whip goes to visit his co-pilot at the hospital, whom we discover to be a religious fanatic. It sets us up to believe that this co-pilot could play into a plot twist, but it doesn't. Instead, it stops and resolves itself right then and there, not really connecting with the rest of the plot.

Though these sub-themes do have a place in the story, they are by no means seamlessly integrated and therefore often leave the audience wondering, "What was that all about?" 

Though flawed, "Flight" still has its moments, and is not at all an inadequate film. However, it isn't as epic and grand as the trailer makes it out to be, and unfortunately doesn't offer that wonderful feeling of fulfillment that we have come to expect at the end of Zemeckis's films due to the off pacing. Flight is by no means a hit and miss--it's just not the bullseye that we thought it'd be. 

Reach Staff Reporter Dian Qi here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.