Jim Erickson reviews a movie that he says is deserving of its Oscar buzz.
I can't join the chorus of raves for Denzel Washington's movie Flight, which seems to be getting nothing but raves from audiences and reviewers alike. The initial airplane crash is unlike any airplane crash you've seen before, and introduces the two elements of mystery that hold up until the very end; what made the airplane act that way and why Washington handled it the way he did. But the bulk of the movie is about whether Washington can overcome his alcohol and cocaine problems long enough to survive the inquiry into the crash.
He isn't an admirable character, hardly even a likeable one, but he is a sort of a hero and definitely an underdog and it¹s not easy to decide how things should turn out. Washington is as good in his role as you've heard, and you have to root for him whether you can approve of him or not. You may also sympathize with those who are desperately trying to help him, in the face of his failure or refusal to cooperate, especially Bruce Greenwood as his friend in his union and John Goodman as his friend and drug dealer, even his frustrated lawyer, Don Cheadle, who has an almost impossible job unless Washington cooperates better than he seems to be able to.
The only negative comment I've seen on Flight, is The Week Magazine's report that the New York Post wasn't happy with the end, which would have been controversial no matter which option was chosen. Flight is not a cheery movie, but it raises some interesting questions about heroism while remaining a suspense and an unusual kind of mystery, with carefully portrayed characters and a pretty objective point of view. It's getting Oscar talk, and deserves it.