By Megan Bianco
Paramount Pictures’ Flight is a comeback of sorts for legendary filmmaker Robert Zemeckis. It is his first live-action film since Cast Away (2000) and his first R-rated movie since Used Cars (1980). As a director usually recognized for feel good films such as Romancing the Stone (1984), Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Forrest Gump (1994), many wouldn’t expect him to make a film with so much mature content. But he does, and in a surprisingly captivating way.
On an ordinary weekday in Orlando, Fla, a pilot (Denzel Washington) and flight attendant (Nadine Valezquez) wake up in a hotel room after a night of getting wasted together and just before their scheduled short flight to Atlanta. We soon discover the pilot, Whip, is an alcoholic. When his plane takes a sudden steep dive toward the ground, Whip makes a miraculous, but unheard of, lifesaving decision to avoid a more grisly crash. At the same time in Atlanta, a washed-up photographer (Kelly Reilly) with a heroin addiction experiences an overdose.
Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood co-star as Whip’s attorney and union representative who defend him when he’s charged with flying under the influence. Flight, written by John Gatins, is one of Zemeckis’ most ambitious films to date and reminds us that on-screen optimism can exist alongside depression and a film can be graphic without being crude.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Zemeckis, Washington and Reilly are popular contenders in the next award season.