It looks like a very successful landing for “Flight,” Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action film since 2000, which has wowed critics almost unanimously, especially when it comes to Denzel Washington’s knockout performance as a coked-up hero pilot.
“Flight” already seems to have “Oscar buzz” written all over it, so check out what the critics are saying now to get the inside word.
“The story, by the screenwriter John Gatins, turns on a crash that takes place soon after the movie opens. During a hop from Orlando, Fla., to Atlanta in a bad storm, a catastrophic event occurs. Whip manages to land the plane, but after saving others, begins losing himself. His unraveling brings on mood swings, rock oldies and a genre sampler, with the movie shifting from thriller to romance, family melodrama, legal drama and bitterly delivered inspirational tract. The calamity stirs up a mystery — what did Whip do, and was he sober when he did it? — feeding the inquiry and his relationships, including with a drug addict (the lyrically melancholic Kelly Reilly); his son (a fine Justin Martin); a friend (a blustery John Goodman); and a lawyer (Don Cheadle, doing a lot with little).” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Denzel Washington is one of the most sympathetic and rock-solid of actors, and it’s effective here how his performance never goes over the top but instead is grounded on obsessive control. There are many scenes inviting emotional displays. A lesser actor might have wanted to act them out. Washington depends on his eyes, his manner and a gift for projecting inner emotion. In the way it meets every requirement of a tricky plot, this is an ideal performance.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
The Opening Sequence
” ‘Flight’ opens with one of the most harrowing in-flight-disaster depictions of all time — a heart-pounder of a sequence made all the more effective by director Robert Zemeckis’ sophisticated decision to cram the camera into the claustrophobic cockpit along with Whip, his panicking younger co-pilot (Brian Geraghty), and a seasoned flight attendant (Tamara Tunie). In a movie attuned to the ravaging effects of both inner psychological turbulence and outer disturbances, that point of view up close, contained — is crucial.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
“While I realize he has always made different sorts of pictures, with varying degrees of flash, it’s gratifying to find Zemeckis leaving behind the uncanny valley for a couple of hours and showing what he can do with a script that scrambles, brilliantly, the audience’s feelings toward a brave and valiant savior with a few things to hide.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
The Final Word
“If ‘Flight’ weren’t so exceptionally crafted and acted, this tale of self-destruction and eventual redemption might feel like the sort of feel-good fare you’d see on the Lifetime Movie Network, or even a 12-step-program promotion. Instead, director Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action film since 2000′s ‘Cast Away’ is by turns thrilling, engrossing and even darkly funny, anchored by a tremendous performance from Denzel Washington.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press