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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Denzel Washington
Bruce Greenwood
John Goodman
Melissa Leo
Don Cheadle
Kelly Reilly.
Directors
Robert Zemeckis.
Screenwriters
John Gatins.
Running Time
138 minutes

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Flight
On a wing and a — hic — prayer


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Plot
Airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) lands a stricken jet during a storm. But, as he’s hailed as a hero by the media, Whip has a dark secret: he’s an alcoholic, who was drunk while flying the plane...


Review
Flight
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Robert Zemeckis has spent most of the last decade on his one-man mission to make mo-cap matter, fiddling around with CG trains, flying Jim Carreys and movies that are, y’know, for kids. Zemeckis would tell you that he has nothing to prove with Flight, his return to live-action directing, but the opening scene alone is quite a statement. We start with breasts. Blurry, out-of-focus breasts, yes, but breasts nonetheless. From there, Zemeckis introduces us to a typical morning-after environment — naked girl, whom we presume is a hooker, wakes up in hotel room with bleary-eyed guy, after a night on the tear. They stumble around, have a hair-of-the-dog drink and spliff, and it’s only from their small talk that you piece together the horrifying truth: he, Denzel Washington, is an airline pilot; she, Nadine Velazquez, is an air stewardess, and they’ve got a flight in less than two hours. Nudity, drug use, swearing, seriousness: it’s the most adult film of Zemeckis’ career, and by the time he out-Scorseses Scorsese with a camera zoom into Washington’s coked-up kisser, it feels very strongly like a director deliberately putting away childish things.

It’s an eye-catching start, and Zemeckis almost immediately follows it up with the eponymous flight, which ends — unsurprisingly — in tragedy. Zemeckis has thrown planes around on screen before, in Cast Away, but his Flight sequence is the best of his career. It’s a triumph of tension worthy of Hitchcock himself, throwing together a series of suspects (a horrible storm; Whip’s bag-of-nerves rookie co-pilot; mechanical problems; Whip’s inebriation, enhanced by the three vodka minis he consumes mid-flight) and keeping us guessing about which one will be responsible until the plane lurches earthward, throwing passengers and stewardesses around. But it’s here that one of Flight’s most interesting wrinkles takes shape — while all around are losing their heads, Washington’s Whip remains totally calm, implementing a manoeuvre (turning the plane upside-down to reduce speed and blow out engine fires) that saves the day, and leads to just six fatalities. We’re later told that ten pilots, using a simulator, couldn’t do what Whip does, which could be read as a sop to movie-star vanity, but also — more disturbingly — that he flew so well not despite his drunkenness, but because of it.

When sequences and subversive thoughts like this abound, Flight — yes! — soars. One scene, in which corporate suits who’ve turned a blind eye to Whip’s condition in order to avoid a huge payout have to enlist a drug dealer to help him come out of his latest nosedive, could well be the most inappropriately funny moment of the year so far, while there’s a nice line of thought about our innate need to anoint heroes in times of crisis, and see only what we want to see. But, eventually, we’re left with a study of addiction that tries its best to skirt cliché, but which ultimately finds it unavoidable, as Whip sinks into a spiral of depression and drink. It’s brilliantly acted, of course — Washington, who hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar for a decade, let alone won one, is mesmerising as a proud, complex, far-from-heroic man whose myriad flaws are circling like vultures, while Kelly Reilly is a revelation as the cracked fellow addict who forms a tad-too-convenient relationship with Whip. Zemeckis places a sure hand on the tiller, a few painfully obvious song choices aside (the use of Sweet Mary Jane and Under The Bridge to underscore scenes of drug use should be outlawed), but there’s nothing here to match the jolt of the first ten minutes, as complexity gives way to convention.


Verdict
A welcome return to live-action filmmaking for Zemeckis, who hasn’t lost his knack for a brilliant shot or for extracting great performances. It may not exactly be a first-class experience throughout, but there’s nothing wrong with premium economy.


Reviewed by Chris Hewitt

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Flight
Empire Star Rating

Flight

The highlight of the new film by Robert Zemeckis occurs within the first 25 minutes. A plane suddenly goes into an uncontrolled dive. It’s a master class of direction, editing and performance. It’s about ten minutes of bare knuckled thrills. Zemeckis has directed these types of scenes before in Castaway and displays his expertise here. Zemeckis has not made an adult film for over a decade. He’s had an illustrious career from Back to the Future to Forest Gump to Castaway and in recent hist... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 02:46, 19 March 2013 | Report This Post


{Duplicate}

{Duplicate} Sorry ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 02:46, 19 March 2013 | Report This Post


FLYING HIGH,....!!!

A pretty decent drama from director Robert Zemeckis!! After an intense sequence involving airline pilot whip whitaker who lands a malfunctioning jet through a nasty storm you know your in for a turbulant ride....Denzel Washington does a great job of a troubled man struggling to come to terms with his now 'hero' status and alchoholism. As time reveals he was not exactly sobre when preforming his 'miracle' upside down monouvere to save nearly all his passengers and crew and has to come to... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 22:14, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flying High......

Review: A film that turned out to bear little resemblance to the one suggested in the trailer, Flight is a rich, engrossing, skillfully-acted character study of a man battling his demons and addictions. Granted, the plane crash is incredibly tense and shockingly breathtaking in its realism, but this simply acts as a backdrop to Denzel's terrific, moving portrayal of 'Whip' Whitaker. The supporting cast do a creditable job, particularly Goodman, who absolutely steals every scene he's in... More

Posted by CeejSays at 22:22, 07 February 2013 | Report This Post


Flying High......

Overall, a very good Film, and a stunning performance by Denzel Washington, although a little bit predictable at times, with some strange characters throw into the mix at times, this Film is a good one to see in the Cinema, with some fantastic scenes from the cockpit, and the actual crash sequence itself was totally scary IMHO....... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by n13roy at 21:51, 07 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Harder work than the trailer suggests...

The on the nose music used in this film is HILARIOUS. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 18:08, 03 February 2013 | Report This Post


Harder work than the trailer suggests...

...but probably not as hard as it should be. The pacing's uneven, the secondary characters are picked up and put down like a spoiled child's toys, and Washington does his best (successfully so) to keep his character from being too likeable. But it is good. It's just about 25 minutes too long. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 18:03, 03 February 2013 | Report This Post


Crashing and burning

A compelling if uncomfortable film. It blends the central theme of the crash with a story of addiction and deceipt, it is a serious film and Washington is deserving of his nomination. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 20:36, 02 February 2013 | Report This Post


Unexpected *spoilers*

Very good film! I was expecting it to be more about the plane and the crash but surprised how it panned out and Denzel was awesome as always. John Goodman Funny as hell great casting all round and very acurate apart from the holywood ending with the problems he has. If that was real life he would have let the stewardess take the rap and drank himself to death. But hey ho to be expected. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stu1980 at 17:07, 02 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

L: elab49 Is that a site like Movietyme?  ep, although they seem to be a bit slow of late. DVDWorldUSA have been shipping it since last week. ... More

Posted by paulyboy at 07:44, 01 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

Flight A serious drama for Zemeckis this time and you'd think that might sound a bit dodgy, but its not!. I must admit to being really quite mistaken about the premise here, I kind thought this was some kind of in-flight disaster flick. I thought the whole film was on-board an airliner, some kind of long haul thriller, so totally wrong there. As it turns out the film is about a veteran pilot played by Washington who is a secret alcoholic and casual drug user. Unfortunately this 'top g... More

Posted by Phubbs at 01:30, 01 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

Is that a site like Movietyme?  ... More

Posted by elab49 at 00:32, 01 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

L: elab49 Amazon have that as a pre-order for 5th Feb? t's been shipping from several importers for well over a week now, they always ship up to two weeks in advance in some cases. ... More

Posted by paulyboy at 21:47, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

L: paulyboy I have this on US Blu-Ray, one of the more severe release date balls ups of recent years. It's a great film, with nice performances and one of the most genuinely intense sequences I've ever seen commited to celluloid, or digitally as it were. It's a genuine pleasure to see Zemeckis back doing live action, he's been farting around in motion capture land for far too long. 4/5 As for the spoiler accusations of the Empire review, they're not without merit to ... More

Posted by elab49 at 20:59, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

Traditionally Russian pilots would swig some vodka 'for luck' before take off. NBD. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spamandham at 19:16, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Flight

I have this on US Blu-Ray, one of the more severe release date balls ups of recent years. It's a great film, with nice performances and one of the most genuinely intense sequences I've ever seen commited to celluloid, or digitally as it were. It's a genuine pleasure to see Zemeckis back doing live action, he's been farting around in motion capture land for far too long. 4/5 As for the spoiler accusations of the Empire review, they're not without merit to be fair. It's hard... More

Posted by paulyboy at 14:50, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Full review = warning spoilers !

While I don't agree here - the trailer basically shows the shots/points made re the flight in the review and the trailer is generally seen as fair game - could we ask that you raise your issues with Empire reviews in this thread please http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=2992613& mpage=1&key=spoilers&NID=0#2992613 or one similar and leave this one for people who wish to discuss the film? Thank you ... More

Posted by elab49 at 11:36, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


Full review = warning spoilers !

There is a button you have to press called "Read full empire review". It's like you are blaming someone else for shooting yourself in the foot. ... More

Posted by danielthompson99 at 10:49, 31 January 2013 | Report This Post


I agree with these comments

I'm giving the film 5 stars out of pity. This movie has now been completely ruined by Empire going through each plot point, revelation and even soundtrack and camera angle descriptions in their "review". The only thing they didn't give away is the ending, but who cares anymore? And Beowulf wasn't really for kids, was it? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by petethejakey at 15:19, 30 January 2013 | Report This Post


Hippolyte is Right!!!

Yes Hippolyte - I've simply stopped reading reviews until I've seen films now as it seems critics can't review films without giving away the best bits any more - Its almost as annoying as the trailers studios insist on releasing which give away every single plot twist, dramatic moment or funny joke in a film - which incidentally someone at Empire wrote a very good blog on. I'm all for making references to interesting or funny party of the story - but telling the viewer exactly what they're g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by England4Me at 18:00, 29 January 2013 | Report This Post


well said Hippolyte...idiots!

I agree with everything you said about them SPOILING SO MANY FILMS with their childish & often vomitus reviews. Their (in this ase Hewitt's) complete lack of ability to carve out an intelligent review is often mind boggling. STOP SPOILING OUR FILMS. In the past I have learned the hard way NOT to read their reviews UNTIL I've seen the film. Often I'm left aghast at seeing what they've included in the review. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lelandmeeks at 20:00, 28 January 2013 | Report This Post


Eh?

Before I read this,I actually was thinking of all the people who complain about spoilers when reading the reviews and sometimes think they're nit picking, then reading this through I thought it must be a bit of a joke since there is no way the reviewer would/ should give away as many plot points as that. Come on why all the thank god JJ Abrams/ Chris Nolan is gonna shroud things in secrecy cack when the review almost gives us the script, or at least the parts of the script that we might enjoy???... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hippolyte at 10:59, 28 January 2013 | Report This Post


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