Denzel Washington and Robert Zemeckis on top form

Flight is the sort of ‘adult’ movie Hollywood loves to make.

An alcoholic pilot is proclaimed a hero before spiralling out of control; it’s an arc more solid than the Forth Bridge.

Couple that with a spellbinding set-piece, a towering central performance and a return to fertile ground for a director who has been off on his own flight of fancy, and all the ingredients are in place for one of the more sophisticated studio offerings of late.

Denzel Washington soars as Captain Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot about to take control of a 9am flight to Atlanta. “I’m feeling a little light-headed,” he says. “I should’ve ate something.”

Or maybe not done that line of cocaine in his hotel room and downed those two miniatures on board...

But, amid terrible weather conditions, when a mechanical failure occurs, Whitaker pulls off a miracle crash-landing – one that sees him hailed as a saviour by the TV news crews.

After a trio of underwhelming mo-cap adventures (The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol), director Robert Zemeckis shows us exactly what special effects should be used for – with a plane crash so visceral you’ll be reaching for the sick bag.

But that’s just the beginning of John Gatins’ script.

A routine blood-test shows up Whitaker’s use of drugs and alcohol, which means – despite his life-saving antics – he faces jail-time.

Showcasing an intriguing moral quandary, Flight is really a character study in addiction – witness Kelly Reilly’s heroin-injecting masseuse, who Whitaker meets in hospital.

Washington never misses a beat as he unravels from cocky self-assurance to reveal an inner monster raging with self-pity and loathing.

It’s not entirely turbulence-free – Whitaker’s coke-supplying buddy (John Goodman) is ill-fitting and the final act about-turn is a little too, well, Hollywood.

But for the most part, ably steered by an on-form Zemeckis, Flight is well worth boarding.


From the nerve-ripping crash to Washington’s stinging portrayal of a boozy pilot, Flight finds Zemeckis back on track after his bumpy mo-cap ride.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Jareth64

      Jan 18th 2013, 12:18

      Stop with the f*****g flying puns will you? It's not funny or clever; it's the cliched, mindless c**p I'd expect from a tabloid newspaper not Total Film. Your review: 2/5.

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    • 2Dglasses

      Jan 23rd 2013, 13:04

      I'll watch it as long as someone in the film mentions how good Denzels (whatever profession) is. "The best g*****n x we have ever seen" ... "test scores off the chart" ... "wrote the book on "...

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    • Hadouken76

      Jan 24th 2013, 12:44

      How come I haven't seen this advertised? lol

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    • ChrisB098

      Feb 8th 2013, 2:04

      I actually loved John Goodman’s character, but I am a big fan of his so I am biased. You pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as the rest of the review goes, thanks for posting it. I skipped this movie in theaters trying to save a little money, so I was really excited when I saw that I could get it through Blockbuster @Home from DISH. I don’t even miss the theaters because I can have my own premiere every week in the comfort of my own home.

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