The movie “Flight” stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker the crack airline pilot with something of a debauched lifestyle. The premise is simple: a routine flight takes a turn for the worse and Whip Whitaker is forced to crash land a plane in an open field; it isn’t a simple crash landing, in fact, it seems more like a landing only he and he alone could have made. Because of his efforts, 96 of 102 souls on board are saved. But there’s a catch; he’s a drunk, and at the time of the crash he was intoxicated.
At first, Whitaker is regarded as a hero; he landed a plane that no other man could possibly have losing only six people (one of which was Katerina, his flight attendant lover). But soon, things start to go awry. His blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was over .2. An investigation ensues. He has a hot shot attorney who gets his blood test results thrown out, but there is other evidence: two empty vodka bottles on a flight for which no drinks were served. Things look bleak. Throughout the film, Whitaker’s alcoholism is powerfully evident.
He begins to develop a relationship with Nicole, a young woman who has had her share of bumps on the road of life: she’s a drug addict and alcoholic herself, but she is bent on recovering her life. Their relationship struggles to take off; Nicole wants Whitaker to join her at AA meetings; she believes they can fix their lives. Unfortunately, the chemical addiction that has Whitaker in its grip is too strong and eventually their relationship falls apart.
Then, there is the inquiry for the plane crash. Whitaker could lose everything if he messes it up. He has a chance, if he keeps to the script his lawyer gives him and he sobers up, but that seems beyond his capabilities. Ultimately, (spoiler alert) he confesses his drunkenness in the middle of the hearing and takes full responsibility for it, primarily because the only other option would be to blame it on Katerina, his now deceased lover. Although he winds up in prison at the end of the movie, he is comfortable with that arrangement. It will be several years before he gets out, but he looks to the future with hope, emerging from the disaster a changed man.
Overall, I thought the movie was good. It is, however, an R rated movie with a gratuitous shot of full frontal nudity in the beginning, but the story holds together well. I half-feared they were going to wind up glorifying drug-use and abuse with the resolution of the story, but they didn’t. It ended well.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half or four stars out of five.