Flight - Blu-ray Review

'The slow motion and fade-to-white of the final moments aside, Whip Whitaker's (Denzel Washington) upside-down descent into a field, via a church spire, feels about as close to an air crash as you'd ever want to get.'

The quiet/loud dynamic of Flight's opening scenes work to superb effect, as director Robert Zemeckis takes us from a pumping hotel room of nakedness, to pre-flight prep, to an outstanding crash sequence, to a quiet post-crash exit interview. Each works because of the syntax of Zemeckis' first act, constructed to lead from new chaos to gentle recovery. The FTSB interview sequence is, in its own way, the most notable. A behind-the-curtain view of how air crashes are investigated, it is so normal compared to the previous scene that it works perfectly in re-establishing us in a believable world.

Not that the crash of Flight in itself takes you far into unbelievable territory. The slow motion and fade-to-white of the final moments aside, Whip Whitaker's (Denzel Washington) upside-down descent into a field, via a church spire, feels about as close to an air crash as you'd ever want to get. It is claustrophobic and expansive at roughly the same time, Zemeckis again showing that a time away from live-action, adult, film-making has not entirely eroded his talents.

That though addresses moments of Flight in isolation. In individual moments, Flight is outstanding but as an entirety, it occasionally crumbles apart as readily as Whitaker does whenever he's in the vicinity of alcohol. Zemeckis has a tendency to play his drama out for several beats too long, composing a film which feels, at least in part, lacking the movement and pace it creates in the opening moments.

Some of that is doubtless down to the tonal shifts the bizarre mixture of characters create. Don Cheadle's lawyer cannot decide if he is smart, smarmy or both. Kelly Reilly, playing brilliantly against type, is from a different sort of addiction film and her relationship with Whitaker doesn't ring true. John Goodman's drug dealer is wildly over-played. Piers Morgan is Piers Morgan.

It stops a good film from becoming great but it can't take away from the main act: Denzel Washington partaking in epic levels of scenery chewing to attempt to replace the steeple-bothering action of his plane from the early moments. That he, for the most part, fills the chasm this could have left the film with is testament to just how powerful an acting presence he is; talking quietly to an investigator, or charging a plane to the ground, top first.



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