Director: Robert Zemeckis
Nominated: Best Actor; Best Original Screenplay
Not a good film to watch if you’re a nervous flier which I am. The flight leading up to the crash is absolutely terrifying – my whole body was tense for the entire sequence. That is one of my worst nightmares brought to life on screen.
It’s not an easy watch and not just because of the horrific accident at the top of the film. It’s the moral questions that are thrown up by the investigation following the wake of the crash. Washington’s Whip Whitaker may be an extraordinary pilot but he’s a seriously flawed human being. He’s not hugely likable which considering he is the lead and focus of the film is an interesting route to go down. It’s an exceptional performance from Denzel Washington and I can see why he was nominated.
There’s the larger question of living with addiction and what it does to not only the addict’s life but also those of the people surrounding them. And not just in Washington’s character but also the supporting character of Nicole, played by the talented Kelly Reilly. She’s much more likable as the damaged artist who cleans herself up. Their lives intersect somewhat tenuously as she overdoses while he is crashing the plane and they meet in the same hospital. Yet she becomes an important part of his life, sticking with him.
I have to say it’s also not an entirely positive picture of pilots or what happens following an accident. Don Cheadle as the criminal negligence lawyer, Hugh Lang is excellent. However his character is not a pleasant one, one who goes to fairly extreme lengths to clear the clearly high and intoxicated Whitaker, even supplying him with cocaine on the morning of his hearing. Whitaker does kind of redeem himself by finally admitting he has a problem albeit at the worst possible moment, during his hearing.
It’s ultimately a story about redemption and finally coming to terms with who you are really are, every aspect of your character including all the really dark and awful bits you try so hard to deny and forget about.