Flight

Flight

Flight is a mixed bag of a movie that mostly succeeds, but not without some major problems.

Denzel Washington gives a solid, unsentimental performance as an alcoholic airline pilot who makes a miraculous landing after his jet starts falling apart, but does so while secretly drunk. After a particularly harrowing crash sequence - Robert Zemeckis sure knows how to direct 'em - the rest of the story follows the investigation into the incident, with the dogs slowly circling around Washington, whose character gets spectacularly drunk even as he denies that he's got a problem.

So yes, this is another one of those "alcoholic on the slow road to sobriety" movies. Washington's work and John Gatins' believable plot are definite highlights, but the film is far from perfect.

It's nice to see Zemeckis step away from the computer and make a real movie with real actors again, but his embarrassingly on-the-nose use of classic songs in the soundtrack is by far the worst thing about Flight. (Example: When we first see John Goodman, as Washington's friend/drug dealer, we hear the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" blasting at top volume. Because Goodman's so devilish, get it?)

There's also a queasy Christian undercurrent throughout the whole film, though it never leads to any one coherent message. (I've always found it strange that diehard Democrat Zemeckis often infuses his work with a pandering, socially conservative subtext.) Finally, Gatins' dialogue, like Zemeckis' direction, relies too much on Hollywood artifice.

All in all, there's a sheen to Flight that's just a wee bit too slick. A little more grit would have helped, though Washington delivers plenty of it. Worth seeing for his performance, but that's about it.