Denzel Washington, Flight

My Favorite Scene: Flight (2012) *Upside Down*

The more time  that passes since I’ve seen Flight, the better a film it becomes in my estimation.  I believe I gave it a 9.0 when it came out, and I’d up that to a 9.75 today.  It is only because Denzel Washington had the misfortune to be nominated against Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln that prevented the actor from getting his third Oscar.  Captain Whip Whitaker is, arguably, the best performance of a career stuffed full of great performances.  The best scene from the film is the jaw-dropping crash landing Whitaker performs that saves all but one life on his aircraft.  The problem is that at the time he pulled off this feat, Whitaker was drunk and high on cocaine.

Flight is the best film about addiction I’ve ever seen.  If you’ve struggled with addiction or know anyone who has, it is an uncomfortable movie at times because it is just THAT dead-on in its depiction of the life of an addict.  It also raises an interesting moral and ethical question. They stuck everyone they could in a simulator recreating the conditions that lead to the crash.  In every case, every person on that plane died.  Is Whip still a hero for saving those lives even though he was intoxicated?  Or is he responsible for the one life that was lost and the ones he saved don’t matter?  This is a film that got way too little praise, and should have been considered  as the landmark drama it was.  Not many R-rated dramas of substance get made anymore, and this was one that needed the R and had a lot to say.

All that being said, after Cast Away and Flight, I’m never getting on a plane with Robert Zemeckis even if he is a pilot.  The actual crash is famous for the iconic upside-down shot, but it works so well in building tension because you experience most of it from the pilot’s point of view.  It’s claustrophobic and nerve-wracking in its constraining view, then you’re blown back into the big picture and it’s all the more effective for your having been jammed in the cockpit.  Brilliant directing, F/X and acting make this a scene for the ages.Flight, Denzel Washington

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Flight (2012) *Upside Down*”

  1. It’s an amazing movie, but I think a lot of people stayed away because they didn’t want to see Denzel like this.

    I am so, so happy that Dreamworks pulled the plug on Zemekis’s 3D mo-cap remake of Yellow Submarine. I’m not saying that in my worst moments I didn’t want to see that movie… badly… but someone had to put a stop to Zemekis and mo-cap. Now we have Flight, and his next movie looks fascinating too. He’s returned from the Uncanny Valley to the land of flesh and blood, and I’m not sure he needed a more popular vehicle to take him there. The point was made with Flight.


      1. I find that even when he enters formulaic action movie territory, his films are much, much better than Will Smith’s and Liam Neeson’s when they coast. I didn’t see The Equalizer, and maybe it’s the exception that proves the rule, but Man On Fire is one of the best revenge films ever made, and Book of Eli is a cut above your average post-apocalyptic action movie. And he single-handedly saved American Gangster with his performance. His stature is so great that no movie ever brings him down. Instead he elevates whatever he is in. Always.


  2. I have to say I loved this movie, and as scary as that scene was, I’ll still happily jump on a plane. After all, as Superman pointed out to Lois Lane, statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to fly 🙂


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