Flight begins its journey as a thriller, but before you know it, you're flying over the rocky terrain of family melodrama, addiction and courtroom clashes. Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, who behind his aviator glasses looks every bit the cool pilot icon America has come to expect since the days of Chuck Yeager. The only problem is that Whip is what is referred to as a functioning alcoholic, and that's not the man you want in the cockpit.
Early in the film, we find Whip flying a commercial airplane from Orlando, Fla., to Atlanta during a bad storm when things start to go wrong. After some frightening moments, he manages to land the plane and save most of those aboard, At first, Whip looks like a hero — but soon questions are raised.
Meanwhile, in denial, he's having more trouble keeping his drinking under wraps, becoming more belligerent and violent.
Director Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Forrest Gump) creates some truly terrifying moments in Flight, particularly when the plane is headed for the ground. After seeing the film, air passengers might insist on Breathalyzer tests for the pilot and crew for any plane they get on.
But Zemeckis keeps the unease palatable throughout the film, even when the action is on the ground, and he allows Washington, one of the best actors of his generation, the freedom to roar when he needs to. It is an Oscar-nominated, worthy performance, and Flight is helped by a fine supporting cast, with Kelly Reilly as Whip's drug- addict girlfriend, Justin Martin as his son, John Goodman as a concerned friend and Don Cheadle as a lawyer.
Flight retails for $29.99 or $39.99 Blu-ray.
These DVDs were also released this week (when two prices are listed, the second is for Blu-ray):
New films: A Late Quartet ($22.98, $29.99); Here Comes the Boom ($30.99, $35.99); Alex Cross ($29.95, $39.99); Tyler Perry's Madea Gets a Job: The Play ($19.98, $24.99); Deadfall ($26.98, $29.98); Celeste and Jesse Forever ($30.99, $35.99); So Undercover ($28.99, $29.95); Side by Side ($26.95, $29.95); The Bouquet ($14.93); Little White Lies ($24.98).
Older films: Cabaret ($14.97, $27.98); Laura ($24.99 Blu-ray); A Star Is Born ($27.98 Blu-ray).
Television: House of Cards Trilogy: The Original UK Series Remastered ($39.98, $49.99); Cougar Town: The Complete First, Second and Third Seasons ($19.98 each); Southland: The Complete Second, Third and Fourth Seasons ($59.98); Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Vol. 2 ($36.98); Above Suspicion: Series 2 ($29.99).
Music: The Road to Red Rocks: Mumford & Sons ($24.98 Blu-ray); Paul Williams: Still Alive ($19.99).
For kids: Peter Pan ($39.99 Blu-ray); Monster High Double Feature: Friday Night Frights and Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love? ($19.98).