Blu-ray Review: Flight

Flight Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis | CAST: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greeenwood, Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 2/5/2013 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99
BONUSES: featurettes
SPECS: R | 138 min. | Drama | Widescreen 16×9 | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

FlightDenzel Washington (Safe House) deserves another Oscar for his performance in Flight, a tough to watch but brilliant drama from director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future).

Harkening back to his Cast Away and Forrest Gump days, Zemeckis delivers a film that grips viewers from its opening reel and keeps them wondering what’s going to happen next. Starting with a terrifying plane crash — as if the one Zemeckis delivered in Cast Away wasn’t scary enough — Flight is an emotional train wreck as we watch the accident’s aftermath.

The crash was caused by a defect in the plane, but talented pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) brings it down with minimal lives lost. The problem is, Whip was drunk at the time. He’s an alcoholic in denial, drinking all night then snorting cocaine for a high that’ll get him through his toughest days. He’s got it all sorted out, until the plane crash threatens to expose him.

Washington’s Whip is a character we admire and pity at the same time. While his union boss (Bruce Greenwood, Dinner for Schmucks) and lawyer (Don Cheadle, Iron Man 2) work to get his name cleared despite mounting evidence of his inebriation, Whip’s determined assertions that he’s done with drinking are thrown aside again and again and again. Just as we start to hope he’ll pull himself together, he falls, and Zemeckis takes us on an emotional roaster coaster watching.

Flight offers up one of the best performances of Washington’s career, and that’s saying something when it’s about an actor who delivers in everything he does. Washington has been nominated for an Academy Award six times (including for Flight) and won twice, for his supporting role in 1989’s Glory and his leading role in 2001’s Training Day. And in this movie, Washington displays even more depth and variety.

Washington is supported with equally adept actors, including Greenwood, Cheadle, John Goodman (TV’s Treme) as a cocky drug dealer and Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) as a recovering addict holding up with Washington. Also worth kudos is Melissa Leo (The Fighter), who’s only in one main scene, as the investigator who’s trying to determine the cause of the crash, but she handles it with such bravado, it’s hard to see the film’s outcome happening without her.

The high-definition Blu-ray picture is gorgeous, and, coupled with the sound, the plane crash on our home screen was even more horrifying than it was in the theater.

Flight comes with only a handful of special features, but they’re all worth a watch. The featurettes “Origins of Flight” and “The Making of Flight” have interviews with Zemeckis, writer John Gatins (Real Steel), Washington, Greenwood, Reilly and others talking about the movie’s production. Gatins and Zemeckis offer extensive details about how the film came about, with Gatins’ inspiration coming from a flight in which he had to sit next to a talkative pilot and much of the best plot turns coming from the collaboration between Gatins and Zemeckis.

We get to see the crash up close and personal in “Anatomy of a Plane Crash,” which shows the crew filming the passengers upside down on the plane and details how the team cut up an actual plane for the movie.

Finally, there’s a Q&A with all the film’s stars, except Washington who was apparently sick that night. There’s some overlap in the information revealed here, but there’s a fun part with Tamara Tunie (TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), who played flight attendant Margaret Thomason. She recalls being on a plane with flight attendants who were fans. After Tunie explained how she had trained with real flight attendants, she was given the go ahead to do her flight’s final announcements.

Under-noticed by the Academy Awards, Flight is definitely a good one for any home library, giving more depth to its story with each viewing.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.