When a pilot performs a miracle landing, saving the lives of almost a hundred people, he becomes a national hero. But questions soon surface - was he drunk at the helm on the day of the accident?
Remarkably, it has been 13 years since director Robert Zemeckis
has helmed a live action feature, with his efforts focussed on the shaky territory of performance capture in films like Beowulf
and A Christmas Carol
since 2000s Castaway
He’s back working with the real life humans for flight, a particularly lurid drama about the aftermath of a terrible, and miraculous, plane crash. Based somewhat on real events, the film kicks off with a lengthy and absorbing sequence detailing what happened on board the plane. And it’s electrifying stuff, allowing the final moments of the flight to play out in real time and capturing all the horror and heroics of the event.
An energetic director in his youth and one long obsessed with the use of the latest technologies, Zemeckis
combines these talents wonderfully for this opening sequence, proving that he still has what it takes to captivate audiences.
Perhaps inevitably, the film never manages to regain that electrifying energy. Post-crash, it quickly starts to turn into a fairly standard drama about a man battling his addition to alcohol. He even shacks up with a fellow addict (a drippy Kelly Reilly
) for a mutual learning experience in their worthlessness, complete with a relationship you never quite buy.
The Oscar nominated script from John Gatins
) is unfocused at the best of times, becoming insufferably drawn out as the picture continues. Religious themes and moments are inserted for no dramatic purpose, with no payoff on screen, and our hero’s battle with alcohol is presented in such an over the top manner it’s often ridiculous.Washington
, naturally, is excellent. He’s playing to his strengths as a self-assured and cocky character, unused to any suggestion of fault. But he has his tender moments too, scenes of self-doubt and pain which are writ large on his expressive face. After far too many years mucking around in Tony Scott’s
toybox, it’s high time we remembered he’s one of the best actors of his generation. Though he hasn’t got a chance at an Oscar.
Like the film, the supporting players are all over the place. Kelly Reilly
is never less than annoying as a weak willed drug addict and we’re never really given the cues we need to decide whether we’re supposed to like Don Cheadle’s
lawyer. Bruce Greenwood
is always good value for money and John Goodman
rocks up like he’s playing in a Coen brothers
movie, complete with rock on the soundtrack and a bag full of coke.Flight
is actually more entertaining than it might sound from the above, there’s a healthy amount of humour sprinkled throughout and Washington’s
performance can’t be faulted. But the wayward nature of the narrative and a running time far in excess of two hours do it no favours, making the audience less interested than they should be in the emotional payoff of the finale.