Tag Archives: Feet Of Clay

Year’s Best:
Denzel Washington Takes Flight

In Flight, Denzel Washington, that towering figure of the cinema, plays Whip Whitaker, a man brought low by an odd and compelling cocktail of professional prowess and personal weakness. He’s the great-man-with-feet-of-clay made flesh. For men like Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King and JFK, the clay feet was a weakness for the ladies. For Whip, it’s a weakness for booze and cocaine, the former to bring him down to that sweet numbness that even the well-adjusted among us sometimes crave, the latter to bring him back up so he can walk through life masquerading as someone worthy of the public’s trust — which, oddly enough, he might even be. Even impaired, Whitaker flies a plane like nobody’s business and handle himself in a hearing in which he’ll fight for his freedom and, metaphorically, his life. In fact, it’s the film’s brilliant juxtaposition of Whitaker’s unmatched talent with a plane (he flies upside down then glides to a landing that saves 96 lives, a feat zero other pilots could replicate in simulation) with his breathtaking weakness for the bottle that makes Whitaker a hero we can root for — and feel compassion for — as he takes his own personal nose dive, and weighs whether to parachute out into a brand new life.

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