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PopTop review: 'Flight' stays aloft on Washington's performance, tight script

Published February 5, 2013 10:06 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

GRADE • B

DVD • It's appropriate that the two Oscar nominations "Flight" received were for Denzel Washington's performance and John Gatins' original screenplay — because they are the only things that make this alcoholism drama worth recommending.

Washington plays "Whip" Whitaker, a veteran airline pilot who covers his raging alcoholism by the occasional bump of cocaine to level himself off chemically. On one flight, a mechanical problem sends his plane into a nosedive, and Whip uses his quick thinking to crash-land the jet in a field, allowing most of the plane's passengers and crew to survive.

The movie's real story is internal, as the ensuing investigation uncovers Whip's ridiculously high blood-alcohol level, leaving Whip bouncing between enablers (like his drug-dealing pal, played by John Goodman) and those, such as a recovering junkie (Kelly Reilly), who force him to confront his addiction.

Director Robert Zemeckis pulls out all the special-effects stops creating the crash, but he telegraphs too many emotional cues. Gatins' simple, direct script gives Washington room to explore the self-delusion and self-loathing that intertwine in Whip's battle with the bottle. —

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