“Flight” (2002) with Denzel Washington

Today I want to present you the film “Flight”. It’s produced and directed by the first class producer and director “Robert Zemeckis” who we also know as director of “Back to the Future”, “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away”. The main character is Denzel Washington, who was nominated for the Oscar for his starring as best actor. Also nominated was John Gatins for the best original screenplay. Another prominent actor who takes part is John Goodman, known from “The Big Lebowski”, “The Flintstones” and “Brother where are thou?”, but he has only two short comedy-like performances as a drug dealer.

Denzel Wahington is to see in the role of the pilot “William Whitaker”. Right in the first ten minutes you get all the information about him which you need. But this first impression about him is changing during the film and offers a surprising ending, which I don’t want to unveil.

At the beginning it’s quite obvious what kind of man William Whitaker is. In the early morning he is to see lying in the double bed of a hotel room. He is telephoning with his divorced wife who demands money for the education of his son. You can imagine that the tone between them isn’t quite friendly. During the call you can see a beautiful and sexy girl with an unbelievable body and long legs, totally nude. She is searching for her panties and the rest of her clothes. It becomes obvious in the way she moves and how she later talks to Whitaker, that the relationship between them has a certain routine and that they have known each other for quite a while. She is a member of Whitaker’s crew that means she is a stewardess. She knows exactly what to do to get the tired and by the telephone call annoyed Whitaker after that rough night ready for the day, ready for the flight. Cocaine is the name of the miracle worker which wakes up the dead.

A few minutes later Whitaker is sitting in his cockpit beneath a new copilot who he accidentally has mistaken with somebody else, but this guy is new and has never flown with him. You can say what you want: Besides his bad condition, besides his eye-rings and his tired face, Whitaker’s acting in the plane is absolutely cool. This is his true home. Not the shabby hotel room, not the boring daily life with barbecue and family, with gardening and caring about checks and struggles with a demanding wife. But here in this cockpit he is the king of the air and free like a bird. It’s funny how he carelessly uses the Oxygen which is reserved for the case of emergency to overcome his hard night. He offers his Oxygen mask to his copilot like a bottle of whiskey. But this guy refuses the offer and appears as insecure and square. Compared with Whitaker, guess who is the man? Whitaker is the one who is in charge and who lives by his own rules. He is a true hero and someone who you directly can identify with. After a difficult plane start caused by bad weather conditions you get to know that he’s not only a good pilot but a genius in flying planes. It doesn’t disturb you at all that he needs three little bottles of Vodka which he mixes secretly with orange juice during his speech to the passengers. Come on, leave him alone! Such a guy, he just needs a little motivation. It’s funny, how he later sleeps in his cockpit seat, hanging in the seat-belts. Wow, life is so cool. Everything with the flight goes well, he is awake again and the copilot is preparing for the landing. All is routine. What else can happen?

But when the copilot is pressing some buttons suddenly a harsh sound vibrates through the whole plane. The plane can’t be directed in a normal way and starts sinking nose pointing to the ground. The copilot starts trembling but fortunately we have a real pilot on board. This is the hour of Whitaker who handles the situation perfectly. He inverts the machine, that means the body is turned around 180 grade and the belly of the plane is on top in direction to the sky. All passengers are hanging screaming in their seat-belts with their heads down. These dramatic scenes are the best in the film and are similar to other catastrophe films with planes like e. g. “Fearless”.

Whitaker makes it to stop the steep sinking of the machine and gets again control over the landing procedure and lands the machine on a flat grass field. Two crew-members and four passengers are dead. But if Whitaker had handled the landing presumingly nobody would be alive.

In the rest of the film which I don’t want to repeat such in detail you get to know who Whitaker really is. He is a big pretender. Later he calls himself a liar. And it’s a great work of Denzel Washington to show the transformation of an alcohol and drug addict. You see the steps of his change. How he first denies his addiction until he dares to be honest to himself, to those who are next to him and to society. This transformation is brilliantly acted and incorporated by Denzel Washington who should have got an Oscar for his starring. I liked the movie very much and it’s worth to be seen.

What the film makes so interesting besides the high quality starring and the fascinating screenplay maybe is that the genre of the movie can’t be determined so exactly: It’s an action-comedy-love-semi-biographical-drama. The different genres aren’t confusing for everything fits well together and is sensitively timed. Thanks to Robert Zemeckis!