As I watched veteran pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) consume large quantities of alcohol and cocaine just before takeoff, I expected the worst. Surprisingly enough, Whitaker takes charge during a mechanical failure and executes a daring manoeuvre to slow down the plane’s descent and regain stability.
Afterward, Whitaker is proclaimed a hero until a post-crash blood test reveals a blood alcohol count of 0.24, well above the legal limit. As he fights to defend his actions and avoid a jail sentence, he must come to terms with a lifestyle of excess and denial.
Along the way, Whitaker connects with a romantic fellow addict (Kelly Reilly) and comic enabler (John Goodman) whenever he needs a quick fix. Union rep (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer (Don Cheadle) round out the list of supporting actors who don’t get too much screen time in this intense character drama.
Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a deeply flawed character who flew too close to the sun (both literally and figuratively) is definitely worthy of an Oscar nomination.
A must-see movie…Just don’t watch it before boarding a plane.