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He Said, She Said Review Site


What She said:


Denzel Washington is really good at playing jerk guys.  In his latest film, Fight, he’s in fine form as Whip Whitaker, a cocky alcohol- and drug-addicted airline pilot who instantly is thrown into the limelight when his plane crashes.  I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer—yeah, the one where he’s flying the plane upside-down.  You would think by watching it that this movie is all about the harrowing seconds of the plane crash, but not at all.  There’s at least an hour-plus remaining in the movie after the crash, probably even more.  You see, Flight, is more about the aftermath of this horrific plane crash, and the turmoil that this creates in Whip’s life.  Once the toxicology results come back on Whip, it’s quickly realized that he broke a lot of rules when he piloted that plane.  Despite the fact that the plane likely went down for purely mechanical reasons, and, through masterful piloting, Whip ended up minimizing loss-of-life, he faces some serious criminal charges because he was inebriated on the plane.

And that’s the crux of what this is about.  I think it’s a bit of a social commentary on what life is like for today’s fleet of pilots.  They work long hours, travel from city to city with little to call a home-base, and face the continual temptation of alcohol, drugs, and sex.  Whip doesn’t handle it well.  He’s lost his family years ago, and he’s a certified alcoholic in denial.  You would think that the crash would make him a little more introspective, but he becomes more brash than ever.  The movie follows him as he tries to skirt around authorities, and his interactions with his union rep and lawyer, who seem content to advocate for Whip, regardless of knowing that he’s a total mess.

Denzel does a good job playing Whip.  He’s arrogant, unlikable, and self-destructive, and yet, in some sense, he is a hero because if it were not for him, so many more would have died.  While not the most action packed movie (at least not after the first third of the film), Flight challenges viewers to contemplate the difference between right and wrong, and what excuses we have for being human.  Should Whip be tried as a criminal, or should he be pardoned because he does have a terrible disease (alcoholism)?  Is alcoholism really a disease?  And where do we draw the lines in what we consider ethical law practice?


Don Cheadle plays Whip’s lawyer, who seems to take pride in the fact that he can get a guilty man exonerated for his crime.  It’s how he makes his money.  Kelly Reilly plays a junkie who is trying to turn her life around, and in doing so encourages Whip to consider it as well.  She’s a sort-of girlfriend who obviously has a good heart, despite her daemons.  John Goodman steps in as Harling Mays, and he’s hands-down the most entertaining character of the film.  He’ll makes you laugh, but will also stir up some negative emotions, as you see the negative influence he has on Whip’s life.

Flight forces you to think a little, but it suffers from some inconsistencies in pacing.  The first third of the movie is so tense that once it shifts into the dramatic portion, the viewer is forced to come down off their adrenaline high, and it doesn’t always feel good.  I wouldn’t say that Flight becomes downright boring, because the characters are always interesting, but it does get flat around the mid-point.  There’s a lot of watching Whip struggle before things move forward in any way.  The film has decent performances all around, which make it more pleasurable to watch. 

Overall, it’s decent enough to recommend.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:


Years ago, society looked up to those in the airline industry. Personally, I think it was the uniforms. People saw these well-dressed folk – who were also responsible for their safety – and it was unfathomable that they could be flawed, let alone really flawed. That idealistic view of pilots and flight attendants is long gone though. Emotional breakdowns, walking off the job right before a flight, and widespread alcohol and drug addiction are common knowledge amongst now. This movie tackles the latter issue.

The movie opens up with a sobering – ok maybe that wasn’t the best choice of words – scene of what this particular airline pilot chooses to do in his free time. William “Whip” Whitaker is a full-blown alcoholic. Whether he’s on the clock or off, he’s always sneaking in a drink when given the chance. He also likes to do fair amount of cocaine, as he feels it perks him up after a stretch of binge drinking. If that isn’t bad enough, he likes to sleep on the job too.


He also happens to be an exceptional pilot. Never was that more obvious than on his most recent flight. First of all, he gets the flight out of some pretty bad turbulence very shortly after takeoff. Of course, he breaks several rules while doing it, but he weathered the storm nonetheless. He has his copilot lie to ground control, as well as does the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do this situation. It all works out and Whip goes to sleep for the next few hours. He is woken up by a sudden jolt caused by a mechanical failure. His copilot has completely lost it at this point, and if Whip weren’t there, they all would have died for sure. But he was, and despite the fact he was under the influence, he is able to pull them out of the situation with a minimal loss of life. He is labeled a hero.

When he checks out of the hospital, he immediately goes into seclusion. He was drunk on the job, knows it, and wants to avoid the media at all cost. He is defiant throughout the movie when approached by his union reps about being intoxicated, but is savvy enough to avoid the media. They have no idea about the fact that he was intoxicated, but even still he wants to avoid any hero worship. Is he protecting himself? Does he feel guilty – despite being very defiant – about being very drunk? Or is it something else?

Speaking of his union reps, these guys are a piece of work. Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) is an old friend and current union president. Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle) is the lawyer the union hired to represent him at his hearing. People like this are why I’m not a huge fan of unions. The lengths they go to defend Whip are downright pathetic. They have his back no matter what and Cheadle’s character actually seems to take pride in the idea of getting Whip off, despite the fact they know he had several different substances in his system.  I know unions were created to protect workers from unfair working conditions, but they are so far past that, they have become nothing but another form of politics. Any organization that openly defends someone they know is guilty simply because you’re part of the same group is not something I can get behind. It’s a testament to both actors talent though, as you really find yourself being disgusted by their behavior. Both are veterans and handle these roles well.

Speaking of great performances, John Goodman was highly entertaining as Harling Mays. He is Whip’s friend, drug dealer, and another person in Whip’s corner. In real life, a person like this would disgust me, but Goodman adds enough humor to the role that, while you don’t like him, you end up being amused by Harling. Goodman was a bit of a late bloomer, but he has some talent.

Kelly Reilly plays Nicole. Nicole is someone Whip meets during his time in the hospital. The end up in a relationship, but being a recovering addict herself, she is not as supportive of Whip’s denial as the other people in his life.


As time goes on and the hearing gets closer, Whip meets up with others people involved in the crash to get a feel for what they are going to say. Basically, he wants to know if they’re in his corner or not, because he knows that just about all of them know he was drunk. Whip is a real charmer. Not only does he operate a plane under the influence – which puts the lives of hundreds of innocents at risk – he has the nerve to try and bully people into lying for him. As with Greenwood and Cheadle, Washington does a very good job at making you hate this guy.

If you know anything about me, you know that I hate blind loyalty. You know that I don’t support people like this. I can’t stand people who defend others simply because there’s a connection between them. I’m not capable of it and I can’t stand it when others do it. So watching a movie in which people make excuse-after-excuse for a person like this was frustrating to a person like me. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good movie though. It was well-acted, emotional, and addresses some heavy issues.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on February 24, 2013.