Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 7, 2012

‘Flight’ soars, crashes in split review


Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — This week, we watched the latest Denzel Washington thriller, Flight (PG-13).

Washington plays an airline pilot whose heroic, life-saving crash landing is put under intense scrutiny when it is revealed that he has an alcohol problem. Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, and Kelly Reilly costar, and Robert Zemeckis directs.

Ryan: I’ll say this first about Flight: If one is a big Denzel Washington fan, then one is (arguably) going to really like the movie. Not only is this movie a return to form for Zemeckis, but Denzel as well. It’s not like Washington hasn’t been making movies. It’s just that here over the past ten (or so) years his resume has been filled with action flicks or dramas where he’s been the villain. So it has been some time since he’s vehicled a straight-ahead adult-orientated drama. Make no mistake about it: Washington is the star of this movie. He is the reason to watch the film. But with all that said, Flight isn’t as strong as a movie as I think it could have been.

Andy: Washington’s performance definitely shines through the film. Without the magnetism of Denzel’s character, this movie probably falls apart. Washington’s charisma is on full display, even as we watch his life crumbling around him. His performance is an unflinching character study of a man battling addiction while brashly denying the problem to others. The flawed, macho response Washington is able to communicate is at times subtle, and at other times violently clear, but it is intriguing throughout the entirety of the movie.

Ryan: Washington gives a much nuanced performance as a pilot who also is an alcoholic. There are some scenes that are hard to watch, not because they are poorly constructed, but because they accurately capture the uncontrollable behaviors of an alcoholic. In all honesty audience shouldn’t be rooting for Washington’s character but we do because of the iconography of Denzel Washington as a true (and beloved) movie star. His star status very much works for the movie. It’s a fine performance and one of his better ones to date.

Andy: The opening flight sequence (approximately 30 minutes) is one of the most thrilling scenes you are likely to see in a movie this year. Then Washington’s performance (and solid turns by his supporting cast) carry the movie with a continued intensity for the next hour or so. Unfortunately, the movie really falters at the end. I don’t want to give away anything here, but the conclusion seriously detracted from the movie for me. I’m sure some people will have no problem at all with the way the movie ends, but I found it to be largely disingenuous, taking away from an otherwise remarkable picture. Even with the questionable ending, Flight is compelling enough for a B+.

Ryan: While Washington’s performance is top-notch, the rest of the film falters more and more as it progresses. The first third of the film, including the miraculously filmed plane scene is immensely thrilling but the rest of the movie breaks down into a by-the-number melodrama in the second and third act. I’m not making light of alcoholism but to me the movie is too black-and-white with regard to its morality play.

It’s like Washington is either a hero or a drunk. There’s no in-between. In my view the movie would have been more gripping if there would have been more of gray area between Washington’s professional heroics and his personal demons. In spite of Washington’s fine performance, Flight falters to a C+.