'Flight' takes off with flying colors
"Flight" is one of those films where after seeing the commercial you think you already know the entire story. I thought for sure I already knew everything that was going to happen before the movie began, but I was wrong. "Flight" is not at all what you think it is. I expected the story of a hero thrown under the bus as a scapegoat for a tragedy and his struggle to fight the charges. The trailer surely made you expect this, but "Flight" is the character study of a broken man diving straight down to rock bottom with an alcohol and drug addiction struggling to remain in control and land on his feet when he is in no control whatsoever. That is exactly what Denzel does when the plane malfunctions, but it is also what his character's life has come to.
The first minute of the film opens up with Denzel topping off a night of all night drinking and drug use by fighting with his ex-wife on the phone, drinking some more and snorting some cocaine not long before his next flight. Denzel continues to drink on the flight, but the accident is not at all his fault. The plane had a bad part. He's a great pilot and maybe because he's drunk and high, with no hesitation he makes a risky call that saves the lives of almost everyone on board. In fact they put several pilots in simulators afterwards and every time every passenger died on board so his heroism is never questioned. The legal driving limit in most places is a .08 BAC. His blood after the flight had a 2.4 BAC and high levels of cocaine so needless to say he's facing serious consequences regardless of his hero status.
The film describes the accident again and again as an act of God. It really is. It happens next to a church and it leads Denzel's character into a downward spiral towards self-destruction. At first he decides to clean up, but once he realizes that he may go to jail he starts again even heavier than before. He begins a relationship with a recovering heroin addict with a heart of gold. While she's looking to clean up, he's looking for an enabler. Denzel's character is the kind of guy who drinks all night then does a line of cocaine to bring himself back up. I don't know if it works that way, but I think we can agree that's pretty close to rock bottom.
Denzel deserves an Oscar for this performance. He probably won't win given he's going up against some serious competition, but I would love to see him win another. I'd also love to see this film win Best Picture and Best Director, but again it's going up against some serious competition. In my opinion, this is the best movie of this year that probably will be nominated. "The Dark Knight Rises," "Savages," "Prometheus," "End of Watch" and "The Grey" may arguably be better films, but they won't be nominated. Denzel gives us a heart breaking performance. It's easy to say out of context after watching it that nobody could have played this part like Denzel does. Somebody else probably could have given a great performance in this role, but not the way Denzel does. We only ever see the wrong in this character through his actions, but the amazing acting talent somehow gives a sympathetic look into his soul. I don't think too many other actors could have pulled that off. I can say with complete honesty there are very few films that have ever made me cry. "Flight" is not one of them, but in retrospect the film is so good and so deep that I wish I had joined the rest of the audience and cried along with them. It certainly had earned my tears.
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