by Tony Medley
director Blake Edwards told the story of alcoholism better and shorter
with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses. He
only took 117 minutes and his ending was realistic.
Washington is an alcoholic druggie who heroically lands a plane in
trouble. That takes place in the first half hour and it is compelling
filmmaking by director Robert Zemeckis. It won't be much encouragement
for those in the audience who are white knuckle flyers to overcome their
fears of flying, though, because it hits everything that worries people
about airplanes, and it's not just that you might be flying with an out
of control, alcoholic pilot.
But during the
next 115 minutes (just two minutes less than Edwards' entire movie) the
film slows down considerably as Washington struggles (not so valiantly)
with his alcoholism and drug addiction. There are some fine performances
here by Washington, Kelly Reilly, who plays another alcoholic with whom
denzel becomes involved, and Don Cheadle as the attorney trying to save
Washington from himself.
There is a
troubling scene in which Washington is roaring drunk, so his
"protectors" call in his drug dealer, John Goodman, who has him snort
three lines of cocaine, which immediately perks denzel up so he's no
longer affected by his alcohol, which, up to that point, had him unable
to stand up. Is cocaine an instant cure for being drunk?
The film deals
with addiction in an interesting manner but unfortunately the ending is
just too much Hollywood, unlike the unhappy ending of Days of Wine
and Roses that really leaves the viewer thinking. I walked out of
Flight able to dismiss it completely due to the ending and its
extraordinary length for such a thin story. Too bad.