Flight

Flight is a 2012 drama movie, the first live action film from director Robert Zemeckis’ since 2000. It stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Reilly & Tamara Tunie. Flight was nominated for two Academy Awards at the 85th Academy Awards: Best Actor (for Washington) and Best Original Screenplay (for John Gatins).

Airline pilot Captain William Whip Whitaker Sr. wakes up on the morning  of October 14, 2011 after a night of sex, drinking, drug use, and very little sleep. With him is flight attendant Katerina Márquez and she is scheduled to be on the same flight as him in 2 hours. Whip snorts cocaine to wake himself up and boards the plane he is to fly from Orlando to Atlanta. After Whip threads the plane through severe turbulence due to heavy stormy weather at takeoff, copilot Ken Evans takes over while Whip discreetly mixes vodka in his orange juice and takes a nap. 20 odd minutes into the flight, the plane takes a huge nosedive and the descent wakes up Whip. Unable to regain pitch control, Whip rolls the plane upside down to arrest the dive. With the engines failing he realizes they will not make it to a runway, so he rolls the plane upright, after calming Ken and taking help from attendant Margaret, and manages to make a forced landing in a field. He loses consciousness on impact and is dragged out of the aircraft by a passenger.

Waking up in the hospital with an injured eye and a limp, he is greeted by his old friend Charlie Anderson, who represents the airline’s pilots union. Charlie informs him that he saved 96 out of 102 onboard the plane; the 6 dead includes Katerina and another flight attendant. While recovering in the hospital Whip meets Nicole, who had overdosed on cocaine and they promise to keep in touch. Whip gets his friend & drug dealer Harling Mays, to pick up some of things & money from his house and sneak him out. Whip goes to his late father’s old farm house tosses out all the bottles of alcohol. Although branded a hero by the public, Whip is informed by Charlie & the union’s lawyer Hugh Lang that NTSB performed a toxicology screen while he was unconscious, showing that Whip was intoxicated – this could land Whip in prison and cost him his pilot license. Hugh works on getting the report dismissed while Whip goes to see Nicole – he is is just in time to rescue her from her pushy landlord. He takes Nicole with him to the farm house and they become intimate. However while Nicole gets a job and goes to AA meetings to stay sober, Whip is driven to drink heavily, possibly by the tension of the investigation. Nicole takes him to an AA meeting but he leaves and his drinking escalates, causing her to leave.

Finding a bunch of reporters at his farm, a drunk Whip goes to see his ex-wife and estranged son but they force him to leave as he is intoxicated. As he steps out he addresses the media who are in full force camped outside. Fearing the NTSB hearing, Whip goes to Charlie and begs him to let him stay there in an effort to stay sober. Hugh has had the report on Whip’s toxicology dismissed as it was done on faulty equipment. It works for 9 days and on the night before the hearing Charlie & Hugh set up Whip at a hotel with a guard posted outside to keep him away from alcohol. His minibar has only nonalcoholic beverages, but restless and unable to sleep Whip finds the door to the adjacent room unlocked and he discovers it has a full minibar. Charlie and Hugh find him the next morning, passed out, still intoxicated. Whip has them call Harling who brings him some cocaine that revives him enough to attend the hearing. At the hearing the lead NTSB investigator Ellen Block explains that a damaged  elevator  assembly  jackscrew was the primary cause of the crash. She commends Whip on his valor and skill, explaining that no other pilots were able to land the plane in simulations following the crash. She then reveals that 2 empty vodka bottles were found in the trash can of the plane but none were served to the passengers. Only one of the crew’s toxicology reports was positive for alcohol, although one was excluded. Since Katerina’s report was positive for alcohol, Block asks Whip if he believes that she drank it. Rather than lie and permanently taint her good name, Whip bravely admits that he drank it, that he flew intoxicated, and that he is intoxicated at that moment. The attending people are in shock and the press goes wild.

13 months pass and Whip is in corrections facilitym imprisoned and telling his story to a  group of fellow inmates that he is glad to be sober and does not regret doing the right thing, because he finally feels “free”. He has pictures of Nicole, his ex-wife and son in his prison cell. As the movie ends, he is visited by his son, who wants to write an essay for his college application on “the most fascinating person I’ve never met” – he has chosen Whip!

Good movie, excellent acting although there are a couple of things I do not understand about the storyline. Great songs featured in the film – includes artists like RHCP, Barenaked Ladies & The Rolling Stones. 8.5 outta 10!

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