Denzel Washington excels in Robert Zemeckis' plane crash drama, which explores some interesting themes and poses some good questions, as well as looking fantastic.
For long I have been a sucker for Zemeckis sensibilities as a director. Having watched most of his movies, Zemeckis was involved in a wide array of genres be it science fiction, fantasy, children, drama, horror, thriller etc., some more successful than others, none showed his lack of ability (maybe horror to an extent).
Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an experienced airline pilot and an alcoholic. On a stormy day, he comes to duty high on alcohol and cocaine but skillfully guides the plane through turbulence. A little later the flight encounters a mechanical malfunction and goes for a nose dive. With an instinctive mind, he inverts the flight to control the decent and miraculously crash lands it in a field. What could have been a total disaster with more than 100 passengers on board is averted and leads to only 6 causalities. Then the investigation starts.
Denzel Washington was so natural as the stubborn drunk who is always difficult to deal with. His mumbles when drunk were nothing short of legendary. So are the scenes when he tries to meet his family, initial scenes at the hospital etc. Kelly Reilly was excellent in 'Eden Lake' and she is nothing short here too. She has a unique voice diction and I love it. John Goodman is quirky and lightens some intense moments while Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle give apt performances.
During the initial part of the movie, there is a little sequence in the hospital between Washington, Reilly and another cancer patient. That was the instant I got drawn in until which it was mostly the terrific flight crash sequence. The movie tend to go spiritual at times but only lingers as long as you can stand it. With only Washington's difficult character to focus on, the screenplay does a tremendous job in holding the viewer's attention when the protagonist stumbles from one depressing scenario to another. The epiphany and the climax is a tad predictable and could have done well without. No faults to find in editing and background score is apt and elevates in some scenes. It is not everyones cup of tea but once you sink in with some patience, I don't see anyone regretting it.
Denzel Washington show in a compelling character study with Zemeckis sensibilities.