Movie Review: Flight

Denzel Washington plays a commercial airline pilot with a drinking problem, who, faced with a broken plane tries a crazy desperate move to stabilize it, saving the lives of most of his passengers. But then they find out he was intoxicated at the time, and the powers that be are going to try and pin the blame for the crash on him, rather than the failure of the plane due to lax maintenance that actually caused the crash.

It was a great movie, and Denzel Washington plays a very convincing drunk, speaking from the perspective of someone who’s lived with one.

What I found interesting though, was mostly because I’ve been working my way through Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling in Modern Fiction, by Donald Maass. I just finished a chapter on emotional arcs, and of course I was watching the structure of the story told in the movie in terms of what I’d learned form the book. It followed those techniques very well, and escalated the moral conflict in the main character right to where he hit rock bottom. It was one of those plots where the main character  could have chosen any moment to end the story, and turn his life around, and the story would have ended there, but he didn’t – he continued making bad choices until he reached that low point where there was no return.

And the writers could have written a story where he wasn’t presented with those choices where he made the wrong decision, but the writers knew what they were doing, and paced out crises, and the main character was forced over and over to choose to lie to protect himself, presenting characters who are facilitating the lies, encouraging him. And to cope, he falls deeper and deeper into the alcoholism that got him into the mess in the first place.

Anyway, good movie – well structured, well acted.

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3 responses to “Movie Review: Flight

  1. Good review Lindsay. Although, there are strong performances (especially really liked Kelly Reilly) and an interesting premise, it never quite finds the “story” it wants to tell. Liked it a lot, but couldn’t get to that point where I loved it.

    • I think one of the big problems the movie ran into was the difference between the audience’s expectations and the story that was actually presented. The trailers made it sound like more of an actiony sort of movie, or maybe an intrigue, but when you watch the movie, the story it wanted to tell was of a man’s struggles with alcoholism. I suspect it’s not a problem with it not finding it’s story, but the story not being what people expected. Or possibly that the form his victory over alcoholism took in the end wasn’t what people expected the ending to be for a hero.

  2. I like Denzel…may check it out given your review. I also enjoyed your blurb on the character hitting rock bottom…Hollywood usually picks the turnaround…I would like to see more creations that have the opposite outcome…which more than likely happens more frequently than the later.

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