Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is a raging alcoholic and coke-head whose life is a series of hangovers and emotional lows, until the day he safely lands a malfunctioning plane. In the crash four passengers and two crews members are killed, including a latina stewardess whom Whip was parting alongside the evening before. The media present Whip as a hero savior, but in reality his blood-alcohol level was three times beyond the legal limit to drive a car, let alone guide 102 souls from Florida to Atlanta in a rainstorm. The government agency responsible for investigating the possible causes, is alarmed at the toxicology report that suggests Captain Whitaker was both drunk and high during the time of take-off.
Integrated along with the compelling crash and its legal ramifications, is a useless sub-plot concerning a recovering heroin addict, who comes to live with Whip on his country property as he attempts to avoid media attention. This character and the ensuing relationship between former junkie and current addict, are miscalculated and offer nothing of value to the main narrative through line. To illustrate my point, this character exits the screenplay at the end of the second act, and she is not missed. With a running time of two hours and twenty minutes, exercising this plot strand would have resulted in a shorter, more powerful experience. When Flight is dealing with matters of the tragic incident, graphically depicted, and resulting fallout it really soars. Another re-write could have resulted in a new-era classic, instead its a missed opportunity featuring an actor willing to commit totally to a screenplay (in its present form) not worth the effort. Though John Goodman injects a shot of energy into the film playing a character that resembles a drug-addled version of his role in The Big Lebowski.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman