Flight starts with Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) waking up in a hotel room. He has partied too hard the night before and wakes up with a naked girl beside him on the bed. In order to get rid of his hangover, He drinks more alcohol while he talks to his ex-wife about alimony and their son’s tuition for college. If that is not enough, he snorts some cocaine before dressing up in his work clothes. Then viewers learn that he is a pilot.
The plane he is about to operate has some problems and during the flight from Orlando to Atlanta, it experiences total hydraulic malfunction. As the plane is diving to the ground, Whitaker turns the plane upside down. His action saves the lives of almost all passengers.
What Whitaker did is called a miracle and the best pilots can’t replicate the same rate of success in simulations. But because of his alcohol and cocaine use, Whitaker is in trouble. The accident caused the death of two crew members and four passengers.
Flight has a lot of potential as a movie about one’s contemplation of the role of God in one’s life and the consequences of one’s actions. But the movie boils down to the story of a man who has the choice to commit perjury about lying about himself or to own up to his fatal mistake of being in the influence of drugs and alcohol while piloting a passenger plane and responsible for the lives of a lot of people.
At 137 minutes, Flight is too long. There are instances of compelling drama in the movie, such as the nightmare flight, Whitaker’s dilemma of drinking a little bottle of gin or leave it in the minibar, and Ellen Block (Melissa Leo) questioning Whitaker at the federal agency’s hearing. But these scenes are rare and the rest tackles a character that doesn’t have a conscience until the end.