The Day That Never Ends ...

Flight (2012)
A Review by Ben Hunter
4 Out of 5 Stars
November 2, 2012

"Get to the Point Ben!"  If you’re an adult, go see it … now!  It’s a little raw in nature as it’s rated R.  But the amazing team behind this movie soften us up to its hardcore nature.  Denzel delivers an amazing performance and helps us to get a realistic sense of this gripping problem in this country.  So I feel the rawness is necessary to drive the point home as best as possible. 

Captain Whip Whitaker on his way to work as a pilot 
during this never ending day.
Daylight … Sunset … everything is the same; one big day, day after day.  I’ve awakened into this same day for as long as I can recently remember.  My son is 15; maybe his age is a good measuring stick of this day that seems to never end?  I shutter to think about him because I haven’t been a good father to him.  But I love him.  I love his mother, though our love has dried thin.  My head pounds of misery of all the time I seem to have wasted but can’t fathom how long.  I’m in a comfortable, luxurious hotel suite, with a beautiful woman that respects me in ways my wife never could.  But I married her, she’s the mother of my child, she’s my soul mate, right?  I should go back to her, but all I can think of is the beauty of the woman next to me in this bed, of this day that never ends.  She’s shaped in an impossible way that somehow is possible.  For the first time, again, I feel respected, worthy of submission as a man by a woman.  But the last pretty face made me feel the same way, where is she now?  Or the one before that?  Or the one before that?  I just want to be loved.  I want to feel like I matter.  I love my wife.  But all I can think about is the pretty face next to me, walking around my room … naked … just for me to take pleasure in looking at … knowing that I made love her just last night.  These are the pleasant thoughts I escape to while the pounding in my head takes precedence.  The nagging my soul mate calls me with when she absolutely has to and doesn’t want to because she just wants me out of her life.  The constant pain in which the vodka, the Smirnoff, the tequila, the Bacardi, the rum, the scotch … destroy my body all day long, but this day has gone on forever, right? … Where am I?  Who am I?  I can see the beer bottles lying around, but beer doesn’t count.  It sure doesn’t help either.  Maybe this cocaine will (takes a snort of a line of cocaine).  That feels better; I can take on this day now, which never seems to end.  Here we go again.  I remember my profession now; I’m a pilot, I’m in a hotel room in between transferring flights.  My name is Whip Whitaker, I want to get sober, but I have to go to work first, let’s now go fly this plane. 

Nobody could've landing that plane like I did!
15 million people are currently affected by alcohol abuse or dependency in America.  It’s a disease that grows and consumes one’s life, a life that’s an ongoing struggle of never ending stress and trauma.  Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrestt Gump, Cast Away) brilliantly depicts this life in Whip (Denzel Washington) who gives one of his best performances of a man at his worst. 

Filght is simply a regular man with irregular problems; Whip is a struggling alcoholic that flies planes, you see the dilemma here?  So things get out of hand on one flight, forcing Whip to deal with his struggle once and for all and not pass by it to deal with it later as he and those in his position do. 

My biggest concern, speaking as an Oscar-ologist, is the realistic nature of this film.  It’s rated R, so there’s a lot of “realism” to it.  It’s not a family film that I can sit down with my Conservative Christian parents, my aunts and relatives alike in the same manner (who probably won't care for the slight jab at Christianity made in this film), and my two little nieces both under 5; it’s a movie for adults, those who can take it real and not that “fake family atmosphere” that Disney has softened us with.  A lot of the time this doesn’t settle well with The Academy.  But sometimes it does, it’s Denzel, and not “that guy from Inglourious Basterds (Michael Fassbender)” who did a “realistic” movie last year (Shame), which was the year’s best performance from an actor and got no recognition from The Academy … NONE.  So I say that to say, going real, a lot of time turns away the people you’re trying to get the vote from, or get an impact from to boost your career.  Only a certain percentage of families can see this, as I said it’s for adults.  But I’m sure Zemeckis and Paramount had this in mind when they took on this film (what a way for Paramount to come back by the way from taking a break from releasing movies most of the year by the way).  If you’re going to go raw, go with a great team.  ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Robert Zemeckis, THE ALMIGHTY AND POWERFUL Denzel Washington; John Goodman (who was brilliant), Don Cheadle (who’s always brilliant, can’t wait to see him in action in the next Iron Man), Melissa Leo (who everyone but me seems to think is brilliant), Kelly Reilly (that cute girl who married Watson in the 2 Sherlock Holmes movies), and Bruce Greenwood (a nameless yet familiar face amongst all families, such as Déjà Vu also starring Denzel). 

A & B stories cross as an alcoholic (Denzel) & a drug addict (Kelly Reilly) cross paths in life.
I don’t think the film’s R rated nature will hinder it all that much.  It’s necessary to drive the point home with the message of the severity of alcoholism.  Yes, they would’ve made more money had gone with a more family friendly, PG-13, generic, good hearted, feel good movie.  But they’ll definitely make an impact, simply because of this nature and because you’ve got an amazing team that put it together.  A lot of “names” are behind this so we the public tend to overlook the fact that a man is loosing his family and himself with more and more booze, because it’s Denzel.  Women, don’t shutter from this movie at the sight of a naked woman because the scenes include Denzel, a man they want to look at.  We accept the raw nature of it because of the people involved.  Filmmaking 101, don’t make a drama or something with a dramatic emotional journey as a first timer because we the audience won’t care who’s going through that journey.  But put a team together as the one I described earlier, full of veterans, people we feel like we know personally, household names and not first timers, and we’ll be absolutely glued to that journey … because it’s Denzel!  Oh my gosh I loved him in that movie he did earlier this year with Ryan Reynolds!  Oh Robert Zemeckis! Back to the Future is one of my all time most favorite movies, my family and I watch it together at almost every family get together!  This is why Michael Fassbender received no recognition last year for Shame, the best performance amongst them all and not a bone was thrown his way.  It’s just how we the public are wired.  The average person reading this probably for the second time now has said, “wait, who is Michael Fassbender again?” 

But back to Flight, it deals with the traumatic disease of alcoholism in a realistic way.  It makes us aware of this problem and want to help those close to us that struggle with it.  You can say it’s kind of preachy as it throws this problem in your face, this guy Whip had a SERIOUS addiction to alcohol, and we are constantly reminded of that all throughout this film.  But I think you don’t really feel it’s coming from the pulpit, and more from people in the industry personally affected by this problem and want the message to get out.  Nicholas Cage won an Oscar for playing a drunk, Leaving Las Vegas (1995), as did Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (2009), people are saying this is one of Denzel’s greatest performances …
Veterans and no strangers to the business, Robert Zemeckis (Director)  and Denzel Washington (Actor),
collaborate on Flight
We’ll leave that to the politics of The Academy.  In the meantime, or thereafter, if you’re an adult, educate yourself and learn about a serious problem in this country; take off with Flight! 

You’ll leave feeling good about yourself.

Drama, 138 Minutes, R
Written by: John Gatins
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood, Tamara Tunie, Nadine Velazquez, and John Goodman 

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