Sunday, November 18, 2012


Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly in Robert Zemekis' Flight
**** out of ****

When I look at the climate of mainstream cinema today, I consider a serious movie from Robert Zemekis to be a breath of fresh air. This is because I don’t think a lot of today’s directors are very good at establishing a tone that can engage an audience emotionally.

Check out AV Club's review.

In the new film Flight, Zemekis returns to directing live-action cinema for the first time in over a decade. It is an incredibly strong and heavy movie about an alcoholic drug-using airline pilot played by Denzel Washington whose character is put to question after a plane crash (The most intense plane crash I’ve ever seen in a movie). The story is thought provoking because the crash is not his fault. It was a technical malfunction and his expert piloting saved lives. Regardless, it wasn’t right for him to put lives at stake on a daily basis with a problem he refused to deal with.

The film is a challenging character-piece that features a broken man on a downward spiral as well as a misery-loves-company relationship with a recovering heroin addict played by Kelly Reilly. Don Cheadle plays the airline’s lawyer, who with Bruce Greenwood, as a higher-up in the company, are doing everything possible to cover up the protagonist’s mistakes. John Goodman is a scene-stealer as Denzel’s sleazy friend who can hook him up with any vice he needs.

The materiel here, by screenwriter John Gatins (Coach Carter) could easily be turned into cheap addiction-themed fodder but it is handled with careful meditative care by Zemekis and the excellent cast who make every scene in the movie take its time without cutting any character short of their humanity.

Zemekis started-off in comedy and found huge success with films that showcased groundbreaking special effects. With Flight, he continues with that ability, but unlike so many technically gifted directors who produce such sights, these tricks have become second hand, as he is just as good -if not better, when dealing with actors, to create real complex characters with a meaningful story to tell. 

Like Spielberg with Lincoln, it is so rewarding to see a director who made my favorite childhood films, make movies that satisfy me as an adult.

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