Be prepared for the most terrifying flying experience you’re ever likely to encounter, expertly created by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Back to the Future”) and engineered on-screen by Denzel Washington. “Flight” may put you off air travel for a while, but on the other hand if the plane you’re aboard should suddenly turn upside down, you’ll know what to do.

This is Washington’s best role to date, and that’s saying a lot for an actor who has consistently chosen to work on blood-and-guts hardball parts throughout a 30-year career. That he lost out on the best actor Oscar at last weekend’s Academy Awards … Well, at least it was to Daniel Day-Lewis.

Director Robert Zemeckis
Language English

Washington plays commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker, whose alcohol- and drug-abuse problem surfaces one rainy morning on a flight from Orlando to Atlanta. Whip snorts cocaine and chugs off a few mini bottles before sitting down to maneuver the plane and thinks it’s all fine, until bad weather combines with engine failure and the vehicle does a vicious nose dive. Whip makes a snap decision to flip the plane over and bring it down to land.

Six people die in the process, and after some detours, Whip finally realizes he’s overdue a lot of soul-searching. The beauty lies in watching Zemeckis take apart Whip’s defenses, piece by bloody piece.