A career ruined by alcohol, a movie ruined by Alcoholics Anonymous.
FLIGHT opens with a tit, a drink, a smoke and a bump. This movie is gonna be… Absolutely Awesome!
Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) wakes in a hotel room with a solid “9” (Nadine Velazquez), who nonchalantly goes about nakedly lighting a cig and finding her clothes. Whip answers his cell phone (his ex-wife on the line), takes a swig of beer and lines up a snort of cocaine. Cut to: Whip in pilot’s uniform, taking command of a jet airliner full of people. We can tell Whip is a well-worn pirate of the skies through his nonchalance, and the fact that he can lift off so insouciantly during a blinding storm (with the whining assistance of green co-pilot, Brian Geraghty), and pilot the massive jet through a wormhole in the tempest to clear skies.
Knowing he is bent makes the scene kinda funny – and scary. Though Whip is a master of the skies, dare we trust someone so high with so many lives so high?
Suddenly the plane suffers a mechanical malfunction, plunging it into a nosedive. His jumpy co-pilot is the mirror image of cool Whip (hey, I get it now!), whimpering ineffectually as Whip takes control and flips the aircraft over to combat its faulty dive mechanism. A gripping crash-landing sequence, that finds Whip flying upside down just above rooftops, comforting one of his stewardesses (Tamara Tunie), dumping the fuel, battling the controls, communicating calmly with the control tower, and finally slicing the steeple off a church to crash-glide powerless onto a field. Only six people from 102 die in the crash. Whip is hailed as a hero. And then the investigations begin.
A toxicology report shows the alcohol and cocaine in his system. His union rep (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer (Don Cheadle) yet stand by him, and do everything to turn attention to the faulty aircraft – as Whip puts it, “they gave me a broken plane!”
Whip is right. His intoxication had nothing to do with the plane’s malfunction, and only a pilot with his veteran skills could have brought it down safely. We’re in Whip’s corner from the outset (being Denzel an’ all) and we feel the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) should not be looking at intoxication as a cause because it was purely the “broken plane” at fault.
FLIGHT could have remained AA (Absolutely Awesome). Instead, it skews idiotically to another AA – Alcoholics Anonymous. And that’s the only reason that other AA (the MPAA) allowed this movie to be greenlit. We realize too late that the impact of the opening scene was to signify Whip “hitting rock bottom” – as the culties like to say – not to portray a realistic pilot with an addiction.
Let’s get this straight: Whip’s unethical team (including John Goodman as Whip’s Drugs-R-Us supplier) should not be allowed to get away with even considering trying to keep a raging alcoholic in a pilot’s seat, let alone all the underhanded actions they perform. If the whole movie was as brave as its opening scenes, it might have followed all those characters’ fates – Cheadle’s, Greenwood’s and Goodman’s – for their comeuppance; trials, convictions for what are probable felonies – but they just disappear from view, losing all focus on their horrendous unethical, illegal behavior; if the whole movie was as unafraid as its opening scenes, the plot might have dwelt on Whip being suspended, fired, or undergoing rehabilitation in a sensible, medical manner.
Instead, they make him auger in, aimed directly at AA.
It’s hard to believe the great Robert Zemeckis would fall for such a biased script (from John Gatins). How am I so sure this movie advocates AA as The Answer? No, I’m not – snigger – “alcoholic,” but I’ve been through the mill with friends who were/are. I’ve been to the meetings, I’ve read the literature, I’ve endured the group hugs. But I never drank the Kool Aid. And this script shows all the telltale signs of someone who has.
Snide AA culties will see every AA tenet as it hits. But for those unfamiliar with the stench of AA policy, here are some red flags:
- Whip takes in smokin’-hot junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly, perfectly capturing that trash-whore look that I find so endearing), who somehow gets real clean real fast when she’s with him – so she can be used as a squawkbox for AA, accusing him of alcoholism and to seek rehab!
- We discover Whip’s co-pilot is a Jesus freak – but it’s not played for laughs, or to illustrate he’s loony. When co-pilot’s girlfriend keeps interjecting “Praise Jesus!” while talking to Whip, it’s played as The Way The Truth and The Light!
- Whip eventually breaks down and says publicly, “I’m an alcoholic!” (AA looooves it when they wear you down to this nub where no self-esteem remains.)
- For the “rock bottom” idiom to work, Whip is made to look as reprehensible as any of the jerkoffs you would find at an AA meeting, constantly slapping away the hands that try to aid him.
Can’t wait for FLIGHT 2 where we see Denzel handing out pamphlets at the airport, saying “Have you heard the news? He Is Risen.”
Sure enough, when we look up Gatins’ history, we discover he’s an alcoholic. What gave it away? EVERYTHING.
They even drop us in an AA meeting with a jerkoff onstage telling a jerkoff anecdote that I’m sure Gatins culled from one of his jerkoff meetings, adding all those AA tics like, “denying to myself,” “knew I needed help”…Here’s the thing, people: you don’t have to attend AA and prostrate yourself in front of voyeuristic jerkoffs to admit you’ve got a problem; you don’t have to attend AA to find whatever god you think exists (which is the worst tenet by far in a cult bloated with idiotic tenets); and here’s the clincher – You don’t have to attend AA to stop drinking!!!
If you want to stop drinking – STOP DRINKING!
Rehabilitation as a concept is noteworthy. But Alcoholics Anonymous is a sham. If you have no self-control and the proclivity to drink, you’re gonna drink. If you have self-control and a proclivity to shame, you’ll be able to stop. It ain’t supernatural. Trust me, I’m a Cucumber.
It’s reprehensible that this cult has gained enough credence that a wayward screenwriter can espouse this brainless dysfunctional trash onscreen. Denzel almost saves the movie with his spectacular performance, but after we see through the AA façade, it comes crashing down. Makes me want to do something that you gutless low-self-esteem bastards dare not do for fear of awakening your demons – get a drink. Ha!