Review: Flight

Poster for 2013 drama film Flight

Genre: Drama
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 1st February 2013
Runtime: 138 minutes
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: John Gatins
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman
Synopsis: After a horrific air disaster is turned into a successful crash landing, the heroic, but alcoholic, pilot must face the music and confront his demons




Robert Zemeckis is back directing live action. After over a decade of evangelising over motion capture technology with films like Beowulf and The Polar Express, he is back in the land of the living with Flight. It’s just a shame that it’s only okay.

The most disappointing thing about Flight is that the director who brought the madcap genius of Back to the Future to the big screen has been reduced to mediocre Oscar bait like this.

Denzel Washington pulls the film through with a strong performance as an alcoholic pilot forced to consider his position after a routine blood test brings his heroism into doubt after a plane crash. The actual crash sequences in Flight are managed beautifully by Zemeckis, perfectly showing his flare for special effects work to create some of the most visually impressive scenes of the year so far.  From that point though, it’s all down to Washington, who does a very good job of managing to play drunk and stoned without pushing it to Nic Cage levels of insanity.

Elsewhere, Don Cheadle plays one of the least interesting characters ever to grace a film screen and John Goodman acts as if he has been placed directly into Flight from the set of The Big Lebowski. Neither is necessarily bad, but the script they are working from – John Gatins’ Oscar-nominated work – doesn’t give either character room to go anywhere other than their identikit original state. There are witty moments to be found in amongst the dialogue, but it’s mostly stony-faced legal rambling and strained comic relief involving drugs.

But the main problem with Flight is that it never quite manages to be interesting enough. The entire narrative arc becomes blindingly obvious about half an hour into the film and the characters never develop beyond their surface caricatures. It just could’ve done with a bit of the innovation and excitement that has characterised the work of Robert Zemeckis for his entire career. Flight isn’t a bad movie, but it’s just lacking the killer spark.

Back in the live action arena, Zemeckis is flying. But he could be flying higher.


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