Box art for Flight


  • Rated R


Airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) miraculously lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe but questions arise as to who or what was really at fault.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Excellent but mature drama about alcoholic airline pilot.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flight is an excellent, albeit mature, drama about an alcoholic airline pilot and the investigation surrounding a plane crash he was involved in. The crash sequence itself is realistic and harrowing, with injuries and wounds. Drinking and drugs are also big issues, as the main character is an alcoholic who frequently binges (sometimes resulting in arguing and/or injuries, some with blood), and a secondary character is a drug addict. There's also a nude scene early in the movie, when the main character wakes up in a hotel room with a girlfriend, and language is strong, with uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Director Robert Zemeckis also made the ultra-popular Forrest Gump, but Flight is more intense in some ways and less age appropriate for younger teens.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how Flight depicts drinking. Why does Whip drink so much? What are the results of his drinking? What consequences does he face? Do they seem realistic?
  • Why doesn't Whip accept any help from anyone? How can you help a loved one who might be an alcoholic/addict?
  • How did the violent plane crash sequence affect you? Was it too over-the-top, or did it seem to fit the story? How does a scene like that compare to something in a big-budget action movie? Which has more impact? Why?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Flight reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Zemeckis reins in the story's potential for moralizing and melodrama, instead delivering a refreshingly sophisticated, mature human drama.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, November 2, 2012

Fresh: Washington sells the hollow confidence of a practiced dissembler, and he conjures enough vulnerability and pure charm to make us wince as he circles the drain.

- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News, Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fresh: The image of the heroic he-man, so entrenched in Hollywood mythology, takes an intriguing detour with Flight.

- Claudia Puig, USA Today, Thursday, November 1, 2012

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Last time Robert Zemeckis made a live-action movie we were on a deserted island with a bearded Tom Hanks and his makeshift companion, Wilson the Volleyball (whose omitted Academy Award for Best Supporting actor I still find lamentable). Thirteen years have passed since then, during which Zemeckis has mainly spent his time in the animation studio, crafting 3D-animated projects like Beowulf and The Polar Express. To varied results, I should add. The film Cast Away, referred to above, has a few common denominators with this well-maneuvered drama, about an alcoholic pilot shouldered by a magnificent Denzel Washington. A role, which he hilariously enough has told in interviews, emanated from research where he typed in the word "drunk" on YouTube. Just like in aforementioned Robinson Crusoe-derivation, Flight as well opens up with a spectacular action sequence aboard a plummeting aircraft. In addition, they both examine a rudimentary "lost soul" theme, even if it in Tom Hanks' case is more in the palpable sense. Fully as exciting as the crash sequence the rest of the film is not. At least, not as far as the adrenaline levels go. For however it may seem, "Flight" is less about the emergency landing that merits Washington's aviator with hero status, and more about a man in the merciless grip of addiction. This is not to say the film gets any less turbulent, as he in the deeply serious aftermath gets questioned, interrogated and faces life behind bars. Apart from the engrossing acting, where supporting performances by (inter alia) John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle maintain "business class" all the way, the power and finely tuned aerodynamics reside in how it insightfully puts us on the stand before Daedal questions of conscience. Which particular path Captain Whitaker chooses to take, becomes a meaningful inner voyage which, despite a few air bumps, sails subtly and with great effect in the pathos-laden troposphere.

- CloudStrife84, Saturday, February 2, 2013

4 stars

A knockout that soars. An absolutely riveting and unforgettable masterpiece. Director, Robert Zemeckis crafts one of his most nuanced and extremely capable films ever, its certainly one his finest films as a director. A bold, strong and very powerful movie that has a deep and emotional story along with incredible character development. Especially on Washington's character, it shows his struggle to contain his addiction and what is left of his damaged soul. Denzel Washington gives one of his best performances ever, it surely one for the books and that will be talked about for years. A commanding and brilliant performance. Washington has truly never been better. Kelly Reilly is excellent. John Goodman is terrific. Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle are fantastic. A nail-biting and powerful thriller that will keep you in the edge of your seat. It delivers big with suspense, a great soundtrack, sharp humor and deeply compelling human drama. An amazing movie. A spectacular and tremendously entertaining film.

- allan913, Saturday, June 22, 2013

4 stars

"Flight" is a difficult movie to categorize. Few movies feature a character so hell-bent on self-destruction such as this ("The Bad Lieutenant" comes to mind), that we're forced to root for their inevitable downfall in hopes it may spur some chance at redemption. Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, an airline pilot forced to make a tough landing after a night of partying with one of the flight attendants. Once onboard the plane, he attends to his hangover with a couple of mini bottles of vodka in his big cup of orange juice. Does it straighten him out? After a hair-raising take off through a scary storm, the crew is confronted with a malfunctioning pitch control that sends the plane into a fatal nosedive. It's only through Whip's quick thinking and daring skills as a pilot that the plane and (most) of it's passengers are saved. After being released from the hospital, he contemplates drying out, even going so far as to throw away all his booze, but news of an investigation into the crash, and the results of his blood alcohol test soon send him racing back to the bottle. In the midst of enablers, even a blossoming relationship with a fellow addict (Kelly Reilly) can't pull him out of the tailspin he finds himself in. Flight is one of the strongest performances Denzel Washington has ever delivered and will probably earn him an oscar nomination. His portrayal of Whip is subtle, one of slowly growing desperation as he struggles to maintain the lie he lives. The character is such a successful liar, he suffers no ill effects in his professional life from this deceit he lives, and yet he suffers internally. It's a great weight to keep yourself afloat under, this crushing lifestyle of drugs and alchohol and ever-worsening morale. This movie reminded me of a song by Bob Dylan, "Ballad in Plain D", with the lyric "My friends in the prison, they ask unto me, how good how good does it feel to be free, and I answer them most mysteriously, are birds free from the chains of the skyway?" ie., the most confining prisons are the ones we construct within our own minds.

- bottcorecords1, Friday, February 1, 2013