ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:
- Best Actor – Denzel Washington
- Best Original Screenplay – John Gatins
Right off the bat, here are a few problems I had with Flight: it was too long, one of the main characters was unnecessary, another character wasn’t used enough, and the main character, Will “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington), was an asshole. These problems really got in the way for me, although overall I think Flight was a pretty decent movie.
If the filmmakers had cut out the character of Nicole (Kelly Reilly), I honestly think it would have been a better, cleaner movie. Nicole doesn’t really add anything to the movie; it takes a little while before it’s even clear why we’re following her character at all, and then when she does enter Whip’s life, she doesn’t really add much except to be someone for him to kiss and be mean to. Whip is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and Nicole is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, but her presence does not change Whip or his situation at all. Change eventually comes to Whip, but it’s because of his own actions and the plane crash that the story is based on, not Nicole.
If they didn’t want to cut out Nicole’s character and they still wanted Whip to have a main companion, it should have been Harling Mays, played by John Goodman. Harling Mays is essentially a hippie version of Walter Sobchak and is therefore pretty amazing. He’s funny and his character plays off of Washington’s character so well that his lack of overall screen time seems to be a wasted opportunity.
Then there’s the issue of Whip being an asshole. It is extremely difficult for me to feel sympathy for asshole characters, even if they’re compelling. I just don’t feel like wasting my time with them. Obviously there are many exceptions to this rule, and Flight is bordering on being an exception. Whip is obviously an amazing pilot, crash landing a plane instead of just crashing it in a way that apparently no other pilot can do, saving the majority of the people on board. But the flipside to this is that Whip was drunk and high while he did this, and was continually drunk throughout the rest of the movie and while he’s being investigated for the crash. So in the end, the movie is not about a plane crash, but about addiction. But I just wasn’t super interested in it, because despite his amazing pilot skills, I found little to no other redeeming qualities in Whip’s character, which was a big obstacle for me.
This film was very Hollywood to me. It was a solid story, it was dramatic, it was funny, it was sad, and the movie came to its inevitable end. I have to say that I really did like it a lot more than I thought I would. It was nice that it wasn’t a “did he get drunk or high before the flight or not” story. It was more about his struggle with his addictions and how far he’s willing to go to keep up his lies.
Of course the best part of the film was John Goodman. He basically played the hippie version of Walter from The Big Lebowski, a dick but still pretty funny. The other characters in this film were fine; the main actress was a little boring though. In many ways it reminded me of Silver Linings Playbook. Very basic and light but this didn’t feel like it was trying as hard.
I think Denzel Washington did a fantastic job but I couldn’t stop thinking throughout the film that he is nominated for this when John Hawkes didn’t get nominated for The Sessions. It seems weird to me but I guess I’m not cool enough for Hollywood so I might never understand.