Friday, November 2, 2012

Mega-Star Denzel Washington Soars in 'Flight'

Flight, starring Denzel Washington as an alcoholic, but incredibly experienced pilot, is a nail-biting drama from director Robert Zemeckis.

Washington, who is known for stretching and flexing his acting chops with bigger than life characters like Malcolm X (Malcolm X), Det. Alonzo Harris (Training Day), Frank Lucas (American Gangster) and Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter (Hurricane), plays Captain Whip Whitaker, an unlikable character who manages to land a crippled plane. 

Denzel Washington
Whip lands the plane by pulling a move that inverts the behemoth flying machine. At first he’s held as a hero who saved 95 lives.  But six people, four passengers and two members of the crew, die in the crash. When it’s revealed he was drunk and had cocaine in his system while flying the plane, his life is literally thrown into a tailspin.  Enter reps from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who want someone to pay for the deaths.

(l-r) Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood
Enter his friend and union representative Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) and a lawyer named Hugh Lang, played by the equally talented Don Cheadle, who recently wrapped his new television series House of Lies on Showtime.

Both men try to get Whip to sober up before he has to testify before a board of inquiry.  But keeping Whip on the straight and narrow appears to be a challenge.

Determined to get away from the glare of lights and constant barrage of questions, Whip finds refuse at his family’s farm.  Everything starts off wonderful. Whip throws out all of the liquor and just know there is a lot of it.

While recovering in the hospital, Whip gets a visit from his friend and drug dealer, Harling Mays, played by John Goodman, who can also be seen in the drama/comedy Argo, currently in theaters nationwide. Goodman is fabulous. He’s funny, he’s poignant and easily steals the scenes he’s in.

Also while recovering the hospital Whip has an encounter with Nicole Maggen (Kelly Reilly), a beautiful but troubled woman from Atlanta, who is also struggling with a drug habit.  She and Whip become fast friends, but are they good for each other? Maggen, a recovering addict, tries to get Whip to clean up his act. But, like some addicts, he shows little interest.

Do you love Whip? Do you hate him? Is he a hero? Is he a felon? Is Whip a good guy or a bad guy? They all seem like simple questions, but they’re anything but.  

One thing for sure, it’s hard to root for a character that is hell bent on ruining his future – but moviegoers do.  They also root for the drug dealer Harling Mays, which opens up a whole other can of worms.

This is one of Washington’s best roles in recent years. He bares his soul (and his backside briefly in the film) with a rawness that is palpable.  It’s an honest and emotional performance that showcases his prowess as an actor with the capability of playing anyone.

Good performances by a top-notch cast. Kudos to everyone involved with the film.

This is a unique story by writer John Gatins. His script and the story are both riveting. It presents scenarios that only lead to more questions. Flight reveals the harrowing story of one man’s heroic feat and how, in the process of defending himself, he discovers his true grace and valor.

This is a fascinatingly, good film. The moral questions presented in the film are up for debate.

Flight will, no doubt, both start and end a conversation.

(l-r) Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle
Flight presents the first pairing of Academy Award® winners Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis.

Flight (Paramount Pictures) stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Brian Geraghty, Tamara Tunie, Nadine Velazquez and James Badge Dale.

Flight is produced by Parkes/MacDonald Production’s Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and ImageMovers’ Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.  The executive producer is Cherylanne Martin. Original screenplay by John Gatins.

On the Donloe Scale: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Flight gets an E (excellent).

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