Flight [Blu-Ray] Robert Zemeckis

Flight [Blu-Ray] Robert Zemeckis
5
In the "Origins of Flight" and "Making of Flight" supplemental materials included with the Blu-Ray, writer John Gatins and director Robert Zemeckis discuss the inhuman, pseudo-altruistic nature of airline pilots. Gatins had been playing with a story about addiction for some time, but was inspired by these very notions when a passing conversation with a pilot gave him pause. He realized that based on the sheer scope of what they do and how many lives they're responsible for on a daily basis, he didn't want to perceive this man as being a flawed individual. This notion of perception and imposed moral assumption are, in part, what drives Flight through its rote addiction narrative. After Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) saves the lives of over 100 passengers by miraculously inverting his plane after a mechanical failure, the presence of drugs and alcohol in his system taints the idea of his heroic feat. Even though he acted promptly and performed his job to perfection — even beyond that of what most of his peers could accomplish — his very human flaw is ultimately what people focus on. While the story goes through its standard motions — Whip hitting bottom and then sinking lower when even fellow alcoholic Nicole (Kelly Reilly) ditches him — there's the mirroring of personal awareness in admitting or acknowledging addiction with socially imposed judgment and presumption. Characters routinely project their values onto each other, using minor faults to prop up their egos, leaving Whip as a bit of a puppet for a bigger political game. The airline is keen on hiding the toxicology report, knowing that regardless of the positive outcome and lack of relevance, its brand would be denigrated by association. Though everyone verbalizes that Whip needs to tackle his problems, save his sardonic drug dealer (John Goodman), his wellbeing is often secondary to the imposition of social expectation and collective morality. Even if Whip acknowledges his problem and does the "right" thing by admitting to drinking before the flight, it does little more than make him a pariah people use to feel better about themselves. His being punished won't change what happened or help anyone, which is where the intrigue of Zemeckis's culturally conscious character drama stems. But despite the full-frontal nudity and sensationalizing of a drunken, half-naked Washington stumbling around a hotel room, Zemeckis only demonstrates a tenuous grasp of the thematic material. What Flight implies (possibly unintentionally) about the general public is quite subversive and could easily alienate a more deluded and less discerning audience, which is why the overall resolution and structure tend towards broad moral assertions about the nature of recovery, rather than pointing out the misguided and self-righteous nature of presumptuous finger-pointing. We're left with yet another banal, affirming look at the importance of admitting our faults, even if they don't make any sort of difference and merely reiterate a status quo that likes to glibly simplify complex issues. A breakdown of the impressive plane crash sequence is also included with the Blu-Ray, which discusses some of the practical complexities of hanging 50 extras upside down while filming. (Paramount)