Flight: No One Could Have Landed That Plane (2012)

Posted: November 12, 2012 in Drama

Though life has been rough for Captain Whip Whitaker, he continues to press on as a pilot. After a night of heavy partying, he balances himself out enough before his flight to Atlanta to jump in the captain’s seat and manually fly the plane through a storm. As they begin to approach Atlanta, the plane drops into a nosedive. Whitaker jumps into action and calmly works with his co-pilot and flight attendant to stabilize and land the plane in an open field. Waking up in the hospital, he learns that he saved most of the passengers onboard but that he also may be looking forward to some scrutiny because of the toxicology reports upon his transport from the crash landing. He befriends another patient at the hospital and takes himself into solitude to try to make sense of the mess he has fallen into. As bad as the crash landing was, the battle for control is only just beginning.

Starring: Denzel Washington (Whip Whitaker), Kelly Reilly (Nicole), Bruce Greenwood (Charlie Anderson), Don Cheadle (Hugh Lang), Nadine Velazquez (Katerina Marquez), Tamara Tunie (Margaret Thomason), John Goodman (Harling Mays), Ravi Kapoor (Dr. Kenan), Brian Geraghty (Ken Evans), Garcelle Beauvais (Deana), Justin Martin (Will), Melissa Leo (Ellen Block)

In one of his classic flawed roles, Washington takes center stage as he tries to portray someone who has good intentions but little respect for his own life. As a man struggling with addiction, his performance brings to life some of the significant tendencies and struggles that addicts experience. In a similar sense, Reilly highlights both the dangers and the attempted recovery in comparison to Washington’s character. Goodman is more of a free spirit and an enabler, while Cheadle and Greenwood are more of the focused representatives of the group. Leo plays a smaller role in the film but still makes a nice impact.


Robert Zemeckis and John Gatins put together a compelling story where the crash is only the beginning. Whitaker’s struggles were certainly not caused by the crash, but they were certainly accelerated by it. Waking up in a drunken stupor, Whitaker had fallen into a pattern of getting drunk at night and shooting cocaine in the morning to “straighten up.” After the crash and the toxicology report, the pressure and public attention only added that much more stress on him to cause him to fall victim to his addiction. While having Nicole around helped in small ways, her inability to monitor his every move ultimately led to a failure to keep him clean. Even his own legal team struggled to get him to comply.


The film’s main focus ended up being more about the addiction than it was about the crash. When the story focused on his family, the conversation highlighted how alcohol had failed him in his marriage and separated him from his son. Though he was able to start a new relationship with Nicole and even when she was just coming off of a near-death experience, their lives were going in different directions. He is given a number of different supports and ways to access help but refuses all of them as he continues to both recognize his problem and live in denial to the public. If the movie represents anything, it represents how dangerous and destructive addiction and excess can be.

This is an intense film that sucks you in with the chaotic flight scene and keeps you engaged with the human struggle.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5


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