Director Robert Zemeckis shows-off his filmmaking chops with Flight, most notably within the film’s first forty-five phenomenal minutes. The plane crash in Flight is spectacular and original. A fresh new take and a welcome addition to the genre; it’s unlike any other plane crash I’ve seen portrayed in a film.
Preparing for its final decent into Atlanta, the MD-80 aircraft of Southjet Flight 227 severely malfunctions. The elevator, the hinged wings on the plane’s tail stick downward, sending the plane into a steep dive. A disastrous crash is almost certain, but with ace pilot Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) at the controls, he and his crew pull off a remarkable feat and save hundreds of lives.
After the gripping first act, the rest of film the film is propelled forward solely by Washington who is in fine form, yet despite this, the film mostly drags on. Many long, unnecessary, and awkward scenes could have easily have been cut, and the film would have been better for it. Parts of the back-story of Whitaker’s life work great, while others are just too convenient to be believable.
Flight tries to be more than just a plane crash film. The film delves deep into the destruction alcoholism can cause, and also attempts to tackle the question of what it is to be a hero.
While drudging up some very interesting and heavy material, considering the film’s length of 2hr 18min, a much clearer statement of intent would have been nice. Since Captain Whitaker is an alcoholic, there is a ton of backlash against him, but the dialogue on the subject of whether or not a drunk can be a hero, is far from concluded.
P.S. Can an MD-80 aircraft fly upside down? These aircraft were never designed to fly inverted, obviously, but can they? According to Larry Goodrich, the film’s flight consultant, the answer is no, or at least not for very long. He says the aircraft’s wings would lose lift, and after that the plane would come down.