For those with the “cut to the chase syndrome”, this line should suffice: I did not care for “Flight”! Admittedly, Denzel Washington is a terrific actor, even a great one, but he cannot save this tiresome, plummeting plot revolving around an alcoholic, cocaine-addicted airline pilot. From the onset we watch as he sniffs and drinks with a fellow airline employee before flying and landing an ill-fated plane, totally stoned. The first twenty -plus minutes are breath-defying and Washington’s performance as “Whip Whitaker” is commanding, compelling, mesmerizing.
A blood test reveals toxic levels of alcohol in his system and he must testify before investigators, clarifying what occurred and led to the demise of the doomed aircraft. The audience is bludgeoned with scene after scene of massive consumption of legal and illegal substances; as Whip sinks into the possessive, smothering arms of perpetual inebriation, his credibility desecrated, garnishing pure disgust from family, friends, and the viewer.
Whitaker develops a relationship with a kindred addict, “Nicole” ( solid and likable performance by Kelly Riley); totally bereft of chemistry. She struggles with both of their defining issues, ultimately lacking the mettle to succeed, with Whip.
Minor roles depicted by John Goodman, Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood as “dealer, “lawyer” and “friend” add integrity, but lack enough screen time to change the rating.
In fairness to “Flight” (directed by Robert Zemeckis, also a pilot) I have never been a fan of “The Lost Weekend”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “Leaving Las Vegas”; inimitable acting cannot overcome the bibulous subject.
Problematic and frightening was the lack of accountability, hedonistic, godlike, cavalier cockiness, flagrant disregard for captive souls, exhibited by Captain Whitaker; after almost 2&1/2 hours many took “flight” , recognizing that the “friendly skies” might be the playground for the unworthy navigator.