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Movie review: 'Flight'

In Robert Zemeckis' “Flight,” a skilled pilot played by Denzel Washington pulls a plane out of a death plunge while registering a blood alcohol level that would render most people unsafe at any speed, but a crash in Whip Whitaker's life is also happening.
Oklahoman Modified: November 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm •  Published: November 2, 2012

Nicole's near-death experience scared her into recovery, but almost nothing scares a man who works 30,000 feet above the ground.

For all its potential for pathos and sentiment, “Flight” is often corrosively funny in portraying Whip's callous adherence to his own self-mythology and the circle of enablers who conspire to keep him afloat.

John Goodman enjoys a bull-in-a-china-shop cameo as Harling Mays, Whip's drug dealer and an experienced engineer when it comes to shocking his client back to life, and Harling has an interesting way of pulling respectable operators down to his level. Just when “Flight” looks like it could veer into an easy recovery, Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins steer Whip back into turbulence.

Zemeckis spent the past dozen years attempting to perfect motion-capture filmmaking through movies such as “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf,” but most of these projects were received coldly because of their characters' attenuated expressive range, or what critics called “dead eyes.” But Zemeckis is back in the land of the living with “Flight” and he chose well in casting Washington in the lead. Washington's natural charisma and cultivated acting skill are often best deployed in the service of playing anti-heroes. He plays Whip as a tragically flawed born leader, a well-liked man whose friends and co-workers are unable or unwilling to pull him out of his free fall.

George Lang



R2:193 ½ stars

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman. (Drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence)


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