Denzel Washington pilots gripping star vehicle Flight

Washington's Oscar-nominated performance as an alcoholic pilot 'will be talked about for years'

LAST UPDATED AT 08:09 ON Fri 1 Feb 2013

What you need to know
The US drama Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis, opens in UK cinemas today. Denzel Washington stars as William 'Whip' Whitaker, an airline pilot with an alcohol problem. When Whitaker miraculously crash-lands his plane after a mid-air incident he is called a hero, but an investigation raises questions about who was at fault.

Flight also features Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood and John Goodman. It has been nominated for two Academy Awards - best actor (Washington) and best original screenplay.

What the critics like
It's an entertaining and cunning film, full of black humour and moral ambiguities, says The Guardian. It's also a star vehicle for Denzel Washington. He's barely off-screen, and audiences will be with him "every step of the way".

Flight reminds us of what Washington can do with a role that would floor a lesser actor, says Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. "He's a ball of fire, and his detailed, depth-charged, bruisingly true performance will be talked about for years."

Washington delivers an effortlessly muscular leading turn, says Tom Huddleston in Time Out. That and some "dynamite" action make Flight "an enjoyable, compelling slice of old-school melodrama".

What they don't like
Despite Denzel's "brilliant" performance, this study of addiction can't avoid the clichés, says Chris Hewitt in Empire. It's not a first-class experience throughout, "but there's nothing wrong with premium economy". · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.