Last night I watched Flight, a film that I’ve intended to watch for months now, but never had that absolute feeling of wanting to watch.
I knew I had to get around to it eventually. It was one of the only major films from Awards season missing from my “Have Seen” list.
Flight stars Denzel Washington as a boozing airline pilot who freakishly averts a plane crash with a rather spectacular aeronautical move that had me gasping, laughing and, really, in emotional turbulence.
It’s an awesome sequence. But at some point over the nearly 90 minutes of movie that follow, Flight changes its tone. Over that span, it becomes something else, very character-centric and heavy on a particular theme (addiction, Addiction, ADDICTION).
I’m reminded of Castaway, Zemeckis’ other single-character drama. That film had greater suspense. However, like Castaway, I believe Flight required an A-list movie star to tell effectively.
In a time where most movies don’t need A-list, I consider Flight a classic. It could have been made 20 years ago, 10 years ago. It has that universal, time-spanning appeal. It contemplates celebrity and heroism and puts Denzel at the center of every frame. You see the Oscar winner in tight close-ups, weathered and parched. I can’t think of many actors who can do what he’s done with this role.
It’s a brilliant screenplay, in my opinion. I understand exactly why is was nominated for an Oscar. The characters are clear, organized. The story is human and each scene is very well-structured. To think John Gatins, a writer with credits that include Summer Catch and Hardball penned this screenplay is impressive to me. I’m reminded of a documentary I saw on screenwriting called Tales from the Script where some very successful screenwriters revealed they have written 10-20 scripts that will probably never see the light of day. From that, I surmise that a lot of quality writing gets overlooked for budgetary, commercial concerns. Meaning in Hollywood, a Summer Catch probably has better odds over a Flight at getting a green light.
My only qualm with Flight is that I think the movie would have been better without the last ten minutes. Not that it’s a bad ending, I just think the story is more about the pilot’s death-defying act than about the pilot himself. Great movie, nonetheless.