Review: Doleful Washington Keeps ‘Flight’ Grounded

Perhaps you have done something like this at some stage in your life: you wake up late for work, hung-over, maybe still a little drunk. You throw on some clothes and report for duty.

Maybe you even take a little pride in having gotten your act together so fast? Hopefully you didn’t snort cocaine to clear your head, and hopefully you weren’t piloting a commercial airliner either.

This is how the morning goes for Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), who copes with an angry wake-up call from his ex-wife and then has to face down a storm on takeoff. As the saying goes, it’s all down hill from here.

An hour into the flight, the plane goes into a tailspin, and Whip has to use his expertise to execute a death-defying emergency landing. He’s a national hero — until the blood test results come in.

With its spectacular plane crash — I would rate it fractionally behind the air disasters director Robert Zemeckis staged in “Cast Away” and Joe Carnahan in “The Grey,” but still more than gut-wrenching enough to make you think about taking the train, next time — “Flight” immediately raises the stakes on your typical addiction drama.