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Film Reviews | Style & Culture

Film Review: ‘Flight’

Washington takes lead in quality flick filled with substance

Robert Zemeckis, the director of all three “Back to the Future” installments, “Forrest Gump,” “Castaway” and many more fantastic movies, has once again exceeded expectations. In his latest film “Flight,” he takes viewers on a journey of a man and his struggle through life and self-exploration after a devastating tragedy sends him spiraling out of control.

“Flight,” starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Reilly, is the story of pilot Captain Whip Whitaker, played by Washington, as he miraculously lands a plane that malfunctions in midair. Landing the plane with minimal deaths, Whip is hailed as a hero.

Through the basic procedure of investigations into the plane’s malfunctions, problems come to light with Whip’s character, struggles with addictions and personal life. Very much like Tom Hanks’ character in “Castaway,” what starts out as a disaster flick quickly turns into one man’s journey to find himself.

Washington steals the show with his performance, but he wasn’t the only actor who stood out. Goodman lent himself to the screen as a much-needed breath of fresh air, with his comedic relief and general badassery. Reilly, who I had never seen before, was surprisingly good and her on-screen chemistry with Washington felt genuine. Cheadle’s performance was enjoyable, for he played an unlikeable character in an excellent way.

One of the best things about this movie is that every aspect of it was carefully calculated and executed with beauty and precision. The characters were fantastic, character development was strong and flawless, and the relationships between characters were real and relatable.

A high for the film is the score and the soundtrack. Many of the songs, which are all well-known classics, were perfectly chosen and placed at the exact moments in which they were needed. The instrumental score was also excellent. Composer Alan Silvestri, who often works with Zemeckis, creates a score that is beautiful, moving and evocative. In fact, there were a few scenes where I think that the music really made the moment. It was very fitting.

Another high point for this film was the cinematography, especially during the plane malfunction sequences. The use of odd camera angles and panning techniques added an intensity to the scenes that left you anxious and teetering on the edge of your seat. In the scene of the crash, you almost feel the disorientation and the scary, tense, anxiety-ridden moments following it, as if you had just crash-landed into an open field somewhere.

There is a common thread of religious themes throughout the whole movie which — I think — is something that Washington’s character has a hard time with. It’s not too in-your-face, but I think it’s appropriate for the theme of the movie. There is a lot of drug use and addiction depicted. The drug use is intense, which helped accurately get the point of the story across and show the evolution of character that goes on throughout the story.

Unlike many movies of this caliber and genre, the ending was very strong and satisfying. I would not have changed one thing. It nicely wrapped up every story line, and ended on a meaningful and positive note. There was no “happily ever after,” but instead a real-life ending that left you thinking and feeling content.

Overall, I thought that this was a genuinely good movie. It was real, relatable, and moving. The performances were great, the filming was beautiful and the music was fantastic. It was all things good. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an “R” rated movie with some substance, rather than a movie with just sex, drugs and violence. It’s a great story and something that will leave you feeling satisfied.

Grade: A