In Robert Zemeckis’ (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) return to live-action filmmaking, the Academy Award-winning director crafts a well-produced piece of work that deals with the pratfalls of alcoholism. Denzel Washington turns in an impressive performance as Captain Whip Whitaker, our protagonist who happens to be an alcoholic. Whitaker steers the plane from destruction while in a drunken state and having snorted coke prior to boarding his plane. In the aftermath the media hails him as a hero while at the same time a federal investigation is underway, uncovering evidence of Whip’s alcoholism.
The supporting cast (Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood) is solid but their characters are extremely one-dimensional. Although the alcoholism plot line is generic and predictable, the film treats this disease as a serious matter and never stops explicitly displaying the negative effects of alcoholism on screen. At times the film’s message about alcoholism isn’t subtle at all and is in your face. Ultimately Denzel Washington keeps the film intact with his Oscar-nominated, grounded and inviting performance.