Like the plane Denzel Washington pilots, "Flight" falls apart in the end.
Like ill-fated Flight 227, the movie, written by John Gatins and Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay, starts with promise: a refreshing storyline that shows heroes as humans, flawed and troubled even while performing miracles such as flying a passenger plane upside down then gliding the smoking wreck onto an empty field with minimal collateral damage.
Director Robert Zemeckis pilots a terrifying opening crash sequence that nervous fliers must avoid at all costs. And Oscar-nominated Best Actor Washington easily drops into his portrayal of a fresh character, the drinking and drugging divorced husband and father Whip Whitaker, in reckless pursuit of sensual pleasures as his body and plane fall apart. But he reaches performance cruising altitude as a not particularly interesting drunk, who binges and passes out with dull regularity (yet still manages to show up for all his NTSB hearings, always on time at 10 a.m.).
The supporting cast is also solid, with gorgeous ginger Kelly Reilly as new girlfriend Nicole, a recovering heroin addict; the always engaging John Goodman as Whip's hippie drug dealer Harling; and the ever-simmering Don Cheadle as frustrated lawyer Hugh Lang, who tries to keep his client dry before he testifies on whether the crash was mechanical or human error.
Whip's estranged teen son Will, played by Justin Martin, asks his dad, "I'm writing an essay about the most influential person I've never met. Who are you?" Whip responds, "That's a good question," yet we still don't know the answer.
The Blu-ray contains the film in high definition, and the features "Origins of 'Flight,'" "The Making of 'Flight,'" "Anatomy of a Plane Crash," and Q&A highlights, but no Ativan.