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Feb 04, 2013

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Robert Zemeckis


Denzel Washington

John Goodman

Don Cheadle

Kelly Reilly


2012 Paramount Pictures

Official Website >>

Still shot from the movie: Flight.

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Reviewed by

Overall C-
Run Time139

Making the Grades

Denzel Washington delivers an award worthy performance as airline pilot Whip Whitaker, a man who has somehow managed to keep his job while nursing both an alcohol and cocaine addiction. But one fateful day his drug dependencies are revealed after, through no apparent fault on his part, the plane he’s flying suffers a major malfunction and nose-dives toward the ground. His younger Christian and sober co-pilot (Brian Geraghty) panics while the drugged up captain coolly performs a literal death-defying maneuver and lands the plane in a field. The somewhat explicit crash leaves a half-dozen people dead, but the vast majority of passengers survive and hail Whip a hero.

A few days later, after Whip has partially recovered from his injuries, he is faced with the facts. The NTSB investigation has revealed the alcohol and drugs in the pilot’s bloodstream and now Whip is facing possible manslaughter charges for the deaths caused by the accident. Initially still denying the charges, even to his own appointed lawyer (Don Cheadle), we begin to see the depth of addiction this man has succumb to.

It’s a testament to Washington’s acting abilities that it is so painful to watch his character throughout this movie. Periods of brief sobriety are short lived and even after his hotshot lawyer manages to get him off the hook, he is still bound by his uncontrollable urge to drink. It certainly is an accurate depiction of an alcoholic who is nowhere near “Step 1” of any recover program.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about Flight is the focus on substance abuse as opposed to the crash itself, and that’s probably wise considering there is far more fiction than fact in this script based on an actual event. (The original pilot served jail time for drug trafficking nearly two decades prior to his heroic crash avoidance, and he was not under the influence of chemicals during the incident.) However while the script goes to great lengths to show the destruction caused by Whip’s behavior there is a sense he was reasonably competent in spite of his intoxication, perhaps even implying that had he not been stoned when the plane tilted out of control he would not have been able to pull of the heroic landing. This could leave viewers, both old and young, with the opposite message this movie appears to be suggesting.

Related to this concern are scenes that show Whip using cocaine to quickly recover from the intoxicating effects of alcohol—both prior to flying the plane and appearing at an important investigatory hearing. This unintended lesson on the benefits of snorting after boozing is another potentially dangerous element. Other content issues include full female nudity during the first few minutes of the film and dozens of sexual expletives, some sexual comments, a multitude of scatological slang and other profanities, terms of deity and derogatory statements heard throughout.

In the end we see hope for Washington’s high-flying character, however this artistically capable film risks taking viewers down a runway paved mostly with good intentions.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Flight.

The argument for more lenient drug and alcohol laws sometimes uses the logic that it only harms those who use these substances. What effects of drug and alcohol use do we see in this movie? How does it involve others who are not users? What are the economic costs of drug and alcohol use? How much money would you be willing to pay to support drug and alcohol screening of airline pilots and people whose jobs may have life or death consequences?

This movie is loosely based on the story of a Canadian pilot who successful landed an Airbus 330 that had run out of fuel during the flight. You can learn more about Captain Robert Piche here:é

Trailers & Clips

Canadian Movie Ratings

14A Coarse Language, Drug Use.
AB 18A Substance Abuse.
MB 18A Coarse Language, Substance/Alcohol Abuse.
ON 18A Coarse Language, Nudity, Substance Abuse.
QC 13+

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of Flight...

Home Video Notes: Flight

Release Date: 5 February 2013

Flight release to home video in either Blu-ray or DVD.

Flight on Blu-ray includes:

- Feature film in high definition

- Origins of Flight

- The Making of Flight

- Anatomy of a Plane Crash

- Q&A Highlights

Flighton DVD offers:

- Feature film in standard definition

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godcares says: Nov. 03, 2012

Please don’t take any of your children no matter what age. This is rated R, which should be a sign anyway. According to reviews, there is a spiritual???? message.  Complete nudity of a female is the first scene of the film.(not just a glimpse….she actually walks across the room straight to the camera full view, and continues to walk in the room naked) F-bombs were all throughout the movie.  I left after about 20 minutes and I am ashamed I stayed that long.  When I got home, I pulled up the reviews and the spiritual message appears to happen in the 2nd half.  At what point in our society do we feel our movies have to be so lifelike to give a good message.  I just wasted $25.  By the way, I didn’t have any children with me, because they are all grown.  I would like to think they would leave the theater too.

lovingmama says: Nov. 25, 2012

I agree with “godcares” statement regarding not bringing any kids to see this movie. When I saw it in the theater there were 2 boys sitting in front of me that never should have seen the inappropriate content of this movie. I was disgusted by the objectification of a women in the first few minutes of the movie. It almost ruined the whole movie for me but overall it was a good movie for some adults. The main character is cocaine User and alcoholic which is seen frequently throughout.

momof2teens says: Feb. 15, 2013

I feel this movie should be NC-17. The scene of the full frontal and side silouette female nudity lasted at least 5 minutes! Even as an adult there were so many scenes I had to fast forward so that I didnt throw up!  The shooting up, the cocaine snorting, just seeing the results of these peoples’ addictions is soooo sad, heartbreaking, and gut wrenching. I agree it felt like one message could be that you could get out of your drunken stupor with the help of the right “candyman”. But in the end there was a good message, finally! 2 actors in the film are Christians and I can see why they wanted to be in this movie to send a message to addicts to get the help they need. If youre a Denzel fan (or not) I also recommend his “Book of Eli” movie.

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