Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Movie Review: Flight (2012) Dir. Robert Zemeckis
Flight by Robert Zemeckis
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blurb: Captain Whip Whitaker starts the day with a bump of coke, some beer and liquor and a naked woman in his hotel room, an hour later he is flying a plane. Technical malfunctions cause the plane to crash but Whitaker is the hero of the hour. What follows is a study of substance abuse set against the background of a crash investigation that brings to light Whitaker's criminal past.
Thoughts: Robert Zemeckis. I should have known.
A lot has been made of this being the first live action film directed by Zemeckis since 2000, he's been focusing on scaring people with animated versions of Tom Hanks since releasing Cast Away and What Lies Beneath, plus it's only the second R-rated film in his career. Zemeckis is most famous for his work in the 80s with Back to the Future and Roger Rabbit being the kind of career highlights most people would only dream of but then in the 90s he won an Osccar for the cheesy Forrest Gump movie and all hint of credibility abandoned him. Essentially what I'm saying is that he's never going to be first choice for a Trainspotting remake and as such your expectations for a dark movie about an alcoholic should be lowered.
The movie opens with an incredible amount of tension, and very quickly you're made aware that this is an adult movie dealing with adult content, we're a long way from Tom Hanks land here folks. But yet another fine performance from Denzel Washington aside this movie is very top heavy, the great stuff happens in the first 30 minutes and slowly reaches an ending that could never live up to what's already occurred.
Denzel is as good as Denzel has been in a long time (probably 2007's American Gangster was his last good performance for me) and the way that the script sets him up as a hero that the audience desperately wants to get behind only to slowly strip him of all dignity is wonderful stuff. Full marks to screenwriter John Gatins for making the most of the real life of Robert Piche for great dramatic effect.
It's a strong Hollywood movie despite the musical choices seemingly being made by a 17 year old who googled "music about drink and drugs" and then bought the rights to use the most popular results in as obnoxious a way as possible throughout the film. Even the love scene was destroyed by cliched music choice, it wasn't Barry White but it could have been.
At over 2 hours long it keeps you watching, enthralled by Washington and the black clouds hanging over him; new heroin addict girlfriend, his best friend is his dealer, wife and son no longer speak to him, criminal investigation and his general self destructive behaviour are just some of the major stones around his neck, until Zemeckis in true Spielberg/Hollywood fashion just flat out kills the movie in the last 35 minutes. First comes possibly the worst filmed "courtroom" scene of any mainstream movie I've ever seen, visually messy and dull plus there's no tension and not just because the ending is obvious to anyone who has ever watched more than one Hollywood film but because Zemeckis seems to have ignored that requirement, it's almost as if he got to the convention room set, put the people in it and thought the dialogue would do all of his work for him. Then what follows is one of the most overused movie cliches of the "dark" happily ever after and I won't spoil it for you but you'll probably see it coming a mile away and wish you'd waited for DVD.
I can't respect that kind of production, if you're going to make a dark movie about the effects of addiction you should go all the way and not pussy out when it comes to the hard facts of life.
I struggled to come up with great movies about addiction to compare and contrast and to recommend as additional watching, it's not usually my forte but I do offer you Frank Sinatra in The Man With The Golden Arm. Anybody make further suggestions? Leave all that and anything else you care to say in the comments.