Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
drug and alcohol abuse
pride versus humility
sin and the Bible
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
Denzel Washington … Whip Whitaker
John Goodman … Harling Mays
Kelly Reilly … Nicole Maggen
Don Cheadle … Hugh Lang
Nadine Velazquez … Katerina Marquez
Bruce Greenwood … Charlie Anderson
Melissa Leo … Ellen Block
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|Director||Robert Zemeckis—“Cast Away,” “Forest Gump,” “Back to the Future”|
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The first 3 minutes of “Flight”, starring Denzel Washington, will be enough for most Christian viewers to head for the exits. The first scene of the film contains gratuitous nudity, as well as abusive drug use and strong profanity. It’s a scene that is filled with utter depravity—an unflinching look at a man who has hit rock bottom. Viewers who leave will be justified in doing so, but viewers who stay will also be justified, because the film’s title not only references the titular act of our protagonist, but also his harrowing redemption from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. “Flight” starts off at the bottom of the barrel, and takes us higher than the clouds.
Captain “Whip” Whitaker wakes up drunk in his Florida hotel room with a woman in his bed. He has a flight departing in 90 minutes. With the help of some cocaine as an “upper,” he makes it to the airport in time and, though the weather is rough, he successfully leaves Orlando to head home to Atlanta. The flight takes a turn for the worse as the engines fail, and Whitaker is forced to pull off a stunning maneuver in order to crash-land the plane and save the lives of those on board. Left in Whitaker’s wake is a great story, but also plenty of questions that require answers. Is Whip a hero or a villain? Can he come to terms with his condition as an addict? How will he live with the consequences of his actions, and what are the most important things in his life?
Director Robert Zemeckis has made some classic films in his day, the likes of which appeal to a wide audience. Films like “Back to the Future”, “Forrest Gump”, and “Cast Away” are all credited to the brain of Zemeckis. Up until this point, he had not made a live action film in over a decade. His return to this forum is nothing short of brilliant, as Zemeckis mines the depths of the human experience to create a film that is realistic while simultaneously fantastical. It doesn’t hurt that the director has Denzel Washington as his lead actor. Washington gives the performance of the year, as a damaged, broken, prideful individual who has to admit his problems in order to make things right.
The film’s qualities, both technically and morally, are excellent. They do, however, come with a steep price. That price is extreme profanity, an extended scene of gratuitous nudity, and continuous drug use scenes that are difficult to watch. In showing redemption, Zemeckis has chosen to show us the glaring face of sin, and while that face is not glorified, the viewer is required to stare at it squarely in order to continue the journey. “Flight” is a film for adults only, and even then it requires a great deal of discernment (as well as the ability to avert one’s eyes).
Ultimately, “Flight” is the story of every human being from fall to redemption. Every one of us is born into sin, a condition we cannot cure on our own. Our sin leads us to pride and arrogance. We are broken. Until we can admit we have a problem and that we are powerless, we may do some incredible things, but we will never be made whole. This film is a powerful movie about becoming whole.
As Christians, we are called to reach out to others in this condition and help them find value and meaning in their lives. In “Flight” you will see a pile of filth, depravity and despair stacked as high as it is wide. Beneath this pile, however, you will also find a powerful and redemptive diamond of truth.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.