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I liked "Flight" quite a bit--maybe I graded it on a curve, because intelligent adult dramas on the big screen are so rare these days, and because Gatins had been writing it for 12 years, and because of James Badge Dale in the stairwell scene, where he delivers a five-minute monologue, interrupting the other two characters' meet cute--though I take your point about different characters.

I'd offer as a counter-argument "the media wouldn't do that": Richard Jewell. Built him up, then tore him down under false pretenses. Jewell certainly saved lives and the media ruined his life for no good reason.


But. No way would Whip ever have gone to prison. That rang false, unless he really, really wanted to plead guilty, which he might have. I'm not a lawyer and *I* could have gotten him off. Guy saves 96 lives, there are 10 different pilots in different simulations who kill everyone on board? Yeah, okay. Your opening statement, if you're a lawyer, is just playing those simulations. Then you call however many of the 96 people and their families are sympathetic. Your closing argument: "96 alive vs. 0 alive." Game over.

The movie wanted Whip to go to prison to redeem himself. Doesn't ring true.

Lance Mannion

Greg, and I might just have been in a grumpy mood when I saw it. Mrs Mannion enjoyed it and not just because of Denzel.

You're right. Not only wouldn't he have gone to jail because Cheadle's character would have closed with what you say, but I can't imagine Whip would even have been prosecuted.

Excellent point about Jewell. I hadn't thought of that. But that's more of the kind of story I hoped Flight would tell. And, also, yes, Dale was great and I should have mentioned that scene, although, again, like Goodman, I felt he'd blown in from a different movie.

Laura V

Love your review & agree with all of it. (Hmm, might those two points be related?)

To add to the improbables: Whip's two minders leaving him alone in a hotel room with a minibar (not standard these days to even have one!) the night before the big show.

[spoilers, I guess]

But the points I'm remotely high-fiving you from afar for are those about the movie you wish Zemeckis had made. When I first saw the trailer a few months ago, my imagination started filling in the blanks of the story. There are lots of interesting jumping-off points -- as you note, almost all of which the filmmakers ignore in lieu of something far less interesting.

At some point I reached Peak Frustration when I saw that the movie was not going to be about a man's effort to close the gap between who he is and who everyone in the world suddenly thinks he is. It wasn't going to be about a man's fall and then rise. It was just a movie about a drunk -- who was going to defiantly stay a drunk, the whole movie. I kept checking my watch and thinking, Is this where he starts to fight? No? Now? No.

Movies about addiction are tricky because the characters aren't fully themselves. We go to the movies to learn moral lessons about choices; someone making choices under the influence of drugs or alcohol deprives us of those lessons. The kind of error we see in Flight is akin to making a movie called Invasion of the Body Snatchers from the perspective of the pod people.

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