30 March 2015

Flying High

The worst flight I've ever been on was when I was blackmailed into going to Greece for my dad's second wedding. I travelled with my nan and aunt on a plane full of horny teenagers who were all excited for the non-stop partying that they were presumably about to enjoy. I was only in my early twenties but after my two family members, I was easily the third oldest person on board by some fucking years. Imagine arriving at a rave with your nan and not being able to leave because the only exit was a ten thousand foot drop and that's exactly what it was like. They were loud, drunk, annoying, and I'm pretty sure that the two in front of us were basically shagging. I'm not exactly a people-person at the best of times and so this was literally my worst nightmare. I promise you that for the few hours we were in the air I was praying for something to go wrong to shut these fuckers up. Just one massive explosion and the noisy bastards would have been blasted out and burnt up in the atmosphere! Obviously I'd have been killed too but it would have been worth it. Like a martyr for the misanthropes, I'd have died fucking happy.  

The only thing worse than not dying in a plane crash during a shit flight however must surely be to die in a plane crash during a flight that wasn't raping you in the soul with misery. This therefore brings me to the subject of Flight which I happened to have watched last night. The film tells the story of a plane accident in which the pilot was forced to roll the thing upside down in order to avoid it plummeting nose-first into the ground. After his performing of this miraculous manoeuvre, the pilot then finds himself under investigation having revealed himself to be a coke-snorting, sleep deprived piss head. So that's basically it, really... The first half is a plane accident and its consequences and the second is of a man coming to terms with his addictions. I don't know how close to reality this film is but I think that for the full two hours I just sat there with my jaw dropped, wondering “WHAT THE FUCK!” Whenever I go on a plane, I spend the journey eyeing everybody up convinced that I'm the only passenger not strapped with a bomb. Do I really have to start worrying about the captain now too? I assumed that there'd be systems to ensure that they were sober before flying at the very least. Fucking yank all of their hair out, test that, and when they're finally bald get started on the pubes. I want my pilot to have had so much of his DNA taken and tested that all that's left of him is his face and hand like in that shit remake of Robocop.  

Anyway, so I don't believe in coincidences and if it looks, sounds, acts, and is credited as Denzel Washington, then that's who I reckon it's probably going to be. As such, the pilot is played by one of the most consistently brilliant actors ever which is pretty lucky because he's in every fucking scene. In all honesty, I think the first half of this movie is a lot more interesting than the second, but at no point does Washington allow things to get boring. He even manages to retain my interest as the character becomes increasingly more difficult to sympathise with by upping his drinking, stubbornness and generally becoming a twat. Although having said that, if I can watch him as a psycho who sets people on fire in American Gangster and not complain, then I suppose I can't hate him too much for being a man who just likes a drink. The problem is that although his performance as a man with demons might be believable and gripping, the film only really takes him on a formulaic journey. From the moment the plane crashes into a church and people start waffling on about the power of God, it's pretty obvious that the character is going to have made some life changing revelations before the end.  

In fact there was quite a lot of the religion thing here to the point where it started to annoy me. Personally I'm agnostic to all that bollocks however if you were to put a gun to my head and force me to pick a side than I'd have to say that I find the reality of a God to be about as believable as the average Danny Dyer performance. It seems though that we can't go a few scenes here without somebody mentioning the bearded, cloudy bastard to the point where some fans of the film even think that he even cameos in the guise of a balding cancer patient. Now the basic message of the movie is one of two things and I can't work out which it's really meant to be. Either it's that God made the crash happen to act as a wake up call for Washington's coke-head captain, or simply that the world is in chaos and the idea of God simply helps to make it make sense. However considering that in real life Washington is a full on bible-basher and the director is an agnostic who claims to be reverting back to his catholic roots, I can't help but presume it's the former. In which case, what the fuck? God crashed a plane to encourage one man to quite drink and drugs? He might have saved one but the crash killed six others. Why was his one life worth more than all of theirs? Am I meant to believe that they were all secret nonces and got what they deserved? I suppose the latter interpretation could still be the more accurate but based on the preachiness and bullshit Hollywood ending, it seems increasingly unlikely. At least when people like Mel Gibson make films about faith, they have the good fucking grace to hide it behind psychopathic levels of gore and violence.  

Perhaps the most interesting part of the film though is in its depiction of life as a functioning addict. As Washington fights to avoid prison for drink-flying, we're told that his actions are what saved the majority of people from death. Not only that but it turns out that no other pilot was able to recreate his actions in a simulator and the accident was more or less unavoidable. Beyond divine intervention, the implication is therefore that it'd take somebody to be coked up to have the nerve to pull off the stunt that he does. Does this add to the idea of life being chaotic or simply become more proof of it being a way of God telling him to pull his socks up? I suppose it's up to you and how you view life although it didn't half put the shits up me. It's bad enough for me to find out that some of our pilots might be off their tits on smack but it's even worse to find out they're out-performing their fucking sober colleagues.  

After the crash, Washington shacks up with Kelly Reilly who is another crackhead that he seems to have befriended. The problem is that as good as she is, she never really gets a chance to make an impact with her story seemingly getting forgotten about and just fizzling out. One minute she's living with him and the next she seems to have disappeared. I don't know what happened there, maybe he snorted her. John Goodman also turns up as John Goodman playing a kind of cartoonish version of Washington's enabler. He's okay but it's not exactly subtle, especially considering he seems to be being stalked by Mick Jagger with the Rolling Stones blasting out on the soundtrack every time he appears. In fact, the musical choices are a little blunt throughout with that being just one example. Can we all please agree to never use Gimme Shelter again seems as Scorsesse has already used it in every one of his fucking films! There's even a scene here after Washington has been cleaned up by his two friends before we're treated to With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles. With musical choices that obvious, I started to wonder if there was a song called The Redemption Of The Flying Boozer and if we were going to hear it before the credits. Spoiler alert... there's not. 

As for the director, I suppose it's significant to mention that this is Robert Zemeckis's first attempt at an adult film in a long time. As such he seems to go a little over-board in the opening scene by having it pretty much start with some woman flashing her gash and waddling her tits across a hotel room. I appreciated this from an 'I'm a heterosexual male' point of view, but it did come across as a little sexist, particularly when Washington was allowed to hide his own leathery captain's helmet behind the bed sheets. Having said that, it's nice that the man behind Back To The Future and Contact has moved back into live action films, leaving all the Polar Express, Beowolf shite behind. In the opening scene we're given the best cocaine scene this side of a Scorsese film before being treated to the most terrifying plane crash I've seen in a long time. From the moment that a drugged up Washington starts the plane's engines until the second it nose dives into a field, I don't think I even blinked. Me watching that scene must be the longest somebody has gone without breathing since David Carridine decided to have a wank and so strung himself up in the wardrobe. Actually, in regards to Zemeckis and Contact, it's interesting to note how that film also dealt with religion but in a much more subtle and less preachy way. I mean we literally get the devil on screen in Flight as the camera tracks over to a television and reveals Piers fucking Morgan. I hate that scum-bucket at the best of times and I know this is a film aimed at adults but I could have still done with a vomit warning before being exposed to his haunted demon face.  

So yeah, to end this with some sort of conclusion, I'd have to say that it was worth the watch for the opening crash, Washington's performance, and to see Zemickis back in the world of the flesh. I know I've pointed out more bad points than good but I'd happily watch it again and if you were to ask me if it's worth two hours of your life I'd say it definitely was. Unless you're a scientist of course, in which case get back to curing cancer you lazy fuck! Sure, most of the characters beyond Washington are a little paper thin and for those of us aware we're going to Hell, the God stuff can be annoying but oh well. It's still entertaining and has scenes that couldn't be more suspenseful than if they had Hitchcock sitting on a weak chair at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Maybe avoid the movie if you've got any upcoming plane trips or if you think one might fly over you at some point but beyond that, I'd say go for it. It's also pretty fun to watch this entire film and then YouTube that Walter White speech about Tenerife afterwards. After having two hours of a junkie be punished for crashing a plane, it's pretty fun to hear a dealer dismiss such an incident. At the end of the day, this probably wasn't even close to the 50th worst air disaster of all time. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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