Flight Review

Man those fly boys like to get high, and Denzel Washington’s Captain “Whip” Whitaker in Flight is no exception.

Like so many men in life, Whip fancies himself as something of a rock star.

He’s got the looks, the charm, the air pilot’s uniform replete with standard issue aviators as well as The Rolling Stones playing on repeat in his head.

And to be fair, Cap’n Whip’s also got the skills to pull off all these clichés with no little flair having already served his country with distinction as a fighter pilot.

But now Whip’s in the usually far more sedate business of flying commercial plane business.

Usually, but not today.

Today, Whip’s plane encounters an act of god mid-flight so he does what any other fly boy with an over inflated ego to match would do.

He rolls said plane upside down to level out the nose dive, then corrects the whole plane flying upside down snag before performing an emergency landing in the nearest field he can find.

Nigh on everyone walks away alive, and Whip’s declared a bally American hero by every aviation expert around.

Only problem being there’s one fly boy come rock star vice I neglected to mention earlier, drugs; in Captain Whitaker’s case, his chosen poison is alcohol.

And as investigators start picking through the finer details of this plane wreck, Whip’s going to have to face up to some painful home truths.

As has now become standard in my reviewing practice, I didn’t read much about director Robert Zemeckis’ new film Flight before boarding the Soho screening room.

It’s always better to be surprised by cinema, and Flight certainly does that.

I was expecting Zemeckis’ new feature to spend a lot of time up in the air, but in truth there’s very little flying involved; Flight’s a far more personal story from writer John Gatins about one man’s struggle to control his inner demons.

Alcoholism is one of those silent little vices that can all too easily fly under the radar of other folk and, from my own experiences of living with this through some of the people I’ve known and loved, it’s a notoriously difficult thing to confront.

That’s because most alcoholics aren’t addicted to alcohol itself, which is either too saccharine sweet or dirty sour to inspire heavy use in even slightly well-adjusted folk; no, alcoholics love the escape it provides them from whatever it is they’re running away from.

And trying to get someone to stop running from their own personal demons is a feat fit for Hercules himself.

This is the real story behind Flight, and the ever brilliant Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker as a man on the run from himself with enough insight and gravitas to keep you securely fastened to your seat.

There’s a plenty of support for Washington too, with Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly and the supporting actor’s actor John Goodman all helping to add a little more colour to the oft depressing reality of addiction.

Flight takes you on a turbulent journey through plenty of uncharted territory, just don’t be disappointed if these highs are more emotional than literal.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2013