Denzel Washington is one of those rare actors who can carry an entire film with his rare talent alone.
In the past, Mr. Washington has been the sole reason why several of his films have received accolades.
Luckily, for this viewer, Flight did not have to rest on Denzel’s unending talent alone. In Flight, Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a pilot who safely lands a plane after a mechanical error in an unconventional way.
This film is not a biography on the life of Sully Sullenberger, the infamous pilot who safely landed a US airways plane in the Hudson River three years ago. This film is a very far cry from that heroic drama that unfolded, before our eyes in some cases, back in 2009. By the end of that momentous day, there were likely 100 scripts for the Legend of Sully. Perhaps that is why this film resonates with so many viewers; a familiar story with a more human twist. The viewer learns almost immediately that our hero, Whip, is under the influence of drugs and alcohol and is, therefore, now the anti-hero. What is most interesting about this twist is that it lends itself to a far more human approach to a character. Every human has flaws it is the essence of what makes us human.
The question the film asks, the question Denzel ’s character forces us to ask is what is a hero? Is a hero someone who saves the lives of those in danger, despite him endangering their lives in the first place? These are the darker questions that Director Robert Zemeckis asks the viewers. During the next two hours we witness Whip struggle with the pain of addiction while trying to figure out how to defend his heroic act.
During his hospitalization, Whip meets Nicole, played by Kelly Reilly, a soft spoken woman easing the pain of her mother’s death through her own addiction. This friendly yet crucial scene propels Whip and Nicole into a relationship that parallels the viewer’s relationship with these characters. When Whip is forced to face his own internal struggle, the audience begins to find redemption. Whip is sitting in a chair, speaking very few lines yet conveying a level of depth only Denzel could uphold. Does he continue lying or accept responsibility? The end choice is simple for us but so difficult for him.
Watch Flight for a rare nonviolent look into addiction, the human condition and redemption, portrayed by an actor who is surely to receive an Academy nomination.