Director: Robert Zemeckis.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheedle and Tamara Tunie.
Running time: 2hrs 18mins.
THIS could have been a dangerous move for Denzel Washington — playing a character against type.
It’s not like his portrayal of real-life mobster Frank Lucas in American Gangster.
There he was quite sympathetic in many ways.
In Flight, there is not much room for sympathy as he plays an alcoholic airline pilot.
The film kicks off with Whip Whitaker (Washington) recovering from a heavy drink and drugs session just before taking charge of a flight.
The short-haul flight is plagued by heavy turbulence, which Whip sees them through — with the help of some vodka miniatures.
For most of the flight, auto pilot takes over and the drunken pilot uses the time to sleep off the booze.
But disaster strikes when the plane goes out of control and seems destined to crash.
Waking up, Whip uses some audacious flying skills to land the plane in a field (excellent, edge-of-your-seat, CGI in use here).
But the real story is the aftermath and the investigation into the crash, which saw six people lose their lives.
Whip is rightly hailed as a hero for his actions, but a toxicology report shows that he had a very high blood/alcohol count.
With the help of a slick lawyer (Cheadle) the tainted evidence of Whip’s alcohol levels are deemed inadmissible to the investigation and it looks like Whip’s dirty, little secret is safe.
Or so it seems.
It’s hard to say precisely where the acting honours should go, but in with a shout is John Goodman whose 60s throwback Harling Mays brings a little light relief to what is otherwise a very dark situation.
Denzel is, of course, a joy to watch as he struggles to keep his drinking in check.
Other performances of note are Cheedle’s straight-as-a-die lawyer, Bruce Greenwood as the union boss determined to help Whip, despite himself and Tamara Tunie as the trolly dolly who survives the crash.
A great night out.