Now Playing: Zemeckis Nosedives

Believe me, nobody wanted to see Robert Zemeckis gloriously return to live-action filmmaking more than I did. From the trailers alone, I expected ‘Flight’ to be one of the finest films of the year. I refuse to re-watch any of the director’s motion-capture movies, but after seeing ‘Flight’, I’d pick one of those turds over this disaster of a movie.

‘Flight’ is downright horrible, a made-for-adults afternoon melodrama that shows no sign of being from the once-bright mind that gave us ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Cast Away’. Despite carrying the name “Flight” and telling a story about an airline captain who saves lives in a should-be disastrous plane crash, ‘Flight’ isn’t at all about flying or the crash that opens the film. Because the airplane aspect is the only thing portrayed in the trailers and TV spots, that’s what we expect – but it’s definitely not what we’re given. The plane crash that opens ‘Flight’ is placed there simply to hook the audience. Nothing that follows even remotely comes close to warranting an emotional connection or entertainment.

The only reason I can find that the movie is titled ‘Flight’ is because Denzel Washington’s leading character is placed in a position of “Fight or Flight,” and always chooses flight – the only thing that he’s good at, literally and metaphorically. His character, just like every other character in the film, is highly flawed. In the world in which this movie is set, there’s no fine line of morals. Everyone – and I mean everyone – is guilty of some atrocity. What’s Denzel’s vice? Better question: What isn’t Denzel’s vice? He’s an alcoholic and a coke-head who sleeps around with any other down-and-out character that will take off her clothes for him. Off the top of my head, no less-likeable central character comes to mind.

After the opening scene, a sleepless night full of scandalous sex, drugs and alcohol, our antihero performs a heroic act by magically crash landing a plane in a way that results in only six deaths. Of course, his blood work will reveal his criminal state, so he knows that he’s doomed. The entire duration of the film is dedicated to showing how this selfish fool tries to cover up what he did. Not how he changes, not how he learns from his mistakes – we only see an awful man doing awful things.

The movie is so tonally inconsistent that I found myself asking, “Is this meant to be a black comedy? Is it teaching us a lesson by showing how absurd something is from the farthest end of the spectrum?” The answers are “no” and “no,” as that would be much smarter than ‘Flight’ actually is. In fact, I think that my observation about the title referring to “Fight or Flight” is a smarter rationale than the filmmakers actually came up with. I’m willing to bet they called it ‘Flight’ simply because the main character is a pilot and he’s always flying high on cocaine.

The events leading up to the ending are so awful that even the general audience that I saw the movie with groaned at an idiotic twist of random fate. The ending itself is unfitting compared to the 130 minutes before it, and carries no weight and definitely no satisfaction.

As much as I hate Zemeckis’ mo-cap movies, I pray that the next project he tackles will return to that unnatural, dead-eye animation. That way, I won’t have to see him butcher another potentially emotional and powerful adult story.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆


  1. Drew

    Almost every other review I have read has been generous it it’s praise of this film, and many critics are convinced that Denzel will bring home his third Oscar for his work in this film.

    You’ll forgive me if I take your review with a grain of salt, and remain extremely excited to see this tonight, right?

    • I haven’t seen the movie, but the trailers leave me with the impression that it basically has one exciting scene at the beginning (the plane crash), and then turns into a boring courtroom drama for the rest. Luke’s review more or less confirms that suspicion.

      • Luke Hickman

        Josh, I expected a courtroom drama too – we don’t even get that until the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

    • Luke Hickman

      To each his own. I never hold it against anyone for having their own opinion – despite mine being the correct one 🙂

  2. See, I’ve always been aware that this was a movie about drug addiction (and think the title of the movie works fine for that as well), so I doubt I’m going to go into the film as disappointed as others who think this is an action movie. I’m looking forward to it.

    • Luke Hickman

      I knew that the addiction part was going to be huge too, but I expected more than just that.

      Based on the trailers, I expected somewhat of a courtroom drama that investigated the events of the crash – not a drama showing an unlikable guy hit rock bottom over and over again.

  3. Drew


    Exactly. If anyone was misled by the trailer, that’s their fault.

    The central character’s battle with addiction is much more interesting than a film about a plane crash.

      • Luke Hickman

        Agreed. I expected to keep revisiting the plane crash via flashbacks and testimonial, debating where the captain caused the crash.

        Nobody is going to expect the dark film they’re handed instead.

        • Ben

          But it doesn’t necessarily make it the film’s fault. Just the marketing department. But I think the trailer hinted a fair amount at Denzel’s own personal struggles in the film, though it definitely embellished the mystery aspect of why the crash occurred.

          The film was fine. Manipulative of course (expect nothing else from Zemeckis these days), but it’s a fine and interesting film powered by a strong Denzel performance.