Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 1, 2012
    100
    Flight is exciting - terrific, really - because in addition to the sophisticated storytelling techniques by which it keeps us hooked, it doesn't drag audience sympathies around by the nose, telling us what to think or how to judge the reckless, charismatic protagonist played by Denzel Washington.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 31, 2012
    100
    It is nearly flawless.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Oct 31, 2012
    100
    Flight opens with one of the most harrowing in-flight-disaster depictions of all time.
  4. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Oct 31, 2012
    91
    Directing his first live-action film since 2000's "Cast Away," Robert Zemeckis paces it brilliantly, slowly ramping up the energy from hungover lethargy to coke-fueled confidence, while creating undercurrents of dread as Washington hits his stride.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Oct 31, 2012
    91
    Exhilarating drama, and a triumphant return to glory for both Zemeckis and Washington.
  6. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Nov 1, 2012
    90
    Flight is freakishly real; it's one of those big-screen nightmares that will inspire fear-of-flying moviegoers to run home and Google car rental deals and Greyhound schedules.
  7. 90
    No actor is as brilliant, or as cunning, as Denzel Washington at portraying superhuman coolness and the scary prospect of its loss.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Oct 17, 2012
    90
    A canny director and a top star decided to dig deep to find the core of a compromised hero. And when they reach that center of gravity, Flight soars.
  9. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Oct 14, 2012
    90
    This absorbing drama provides Denzel Washington with one of his meatiest, most complex roles, and he flies with it.
  10. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 1, 2012
    88
    Flight is neither a simple story of heroism, nor one of a fallen hero. Things are more complex than that - and it is its complexities that make the film all the more rewarding an experience.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 1, 2012
    88
    We can quibble about the punitive punchline of John Gatins' script, but keeping complexity aloft for so long makes Flight a miraculous feat.
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 1, 2012
    88
    You might bitch that Flight levels off after its shocking, soaring start. But you'd be missing the point of an exceptional entertainment that Zemeckis shades into something quietly devastating – not an addiction drama, but the deeper spectacle of a man facing the truth about himself.
  13. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Oct 17, 2012
    88
    A unique, audacious studio movie, kicking off as a star-driven spectacle before whittling itself down to a raw and riveting character study.
  14. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 14, 2012
    83
    Slickly paced and carried by mature performances, Flight embodies one of the finer strains of Hollywood filmmaking in recent years.
  15. Reviewed by: Chris Hewitt
    Jan 28, 2013
    80
    A welcome return to live-action filmmaking for Zemeckis, who hasn't lost his knack for a brilliant shot or for extracting great performances. It may not exactly be a first-class experience throughout, but there's nothing wrong with premium economy.
  16. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Nov 7, 2012
    80
    We get tired of watching Whip fail, and we're caught between dismayed pity and a longing to see him punished. Only a great actor could have pulled off this balancing act. [12 Nov. 2012, p.94]
  17. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 1, 2012
    80
    One of the big reasons Flight is so satisfying is that it moves with the no-frills, meat-and-potatoes conventions of a first-rate procedural while being awash in ambiguity.
  18. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Nov 1, 2012
    80
    It is not surprising that Zemeckis's handling of spectacle would be undiminished, but he hasn't lost his touch with actors, either, coaching Washington into one of his rare performances that suggests much more than it shows.
  19. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 31, 2012
    80
    [Washington's is] a tremendous performance. It's when he is on-screen (most of the time) that Zemeckis' film really, if you'll excuse the expression, takes flight.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 14, 2012
    80
    Denzel Washington is aces as a commercial airline pilot who pulls off a miraculous mid-air stunt while flying with a 0.24 blood alcohol concentration, only to face his demons on the ground.
  21. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 4, 2012
    75
    It may not be frivolously engaging but it is compelling.
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 2, 2012
    75
    The people who made Flight have done a courageous thing. With all the potential revenue to be had from in-flight movie sales, they have made a movie that is guaranteed to never be shown on an airplane.
  23. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 1, 2012
    75
    That 20-minute white-knuckle sequence - which includes Washington's character, Whip Whitaker, flipping the plane upside down to pull out of a tailspin - is by far the most effective part of director Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film since the underrated "Cast Away" 12 years ago.
  24. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 1, 2012
    75
    Just in time for the holiday travel season, Flight brings audiences perhaps the most harrowing scenes of a troubled airplane ever committed to film.
  25. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 1, 2012
    75
    The plane crash in Flight must go down as one of the strongest single scenes of 2012: It's extended, detailed, technically and emotionally realistic, and beyond that, it reveals character.
  26. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Nov 1, 2012
    75
    Flight is a so-so movie with Denzel Washington as a commercial-airline pilot who crash-lands a plane while drunk, high, hung over, and horny. It doesn't do much that you couldn't anticipate just by seeing the trailer - the trailer is more exciting than the movie itself.
  27. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 1, 2012
    75
    The film is not without flaws. It glosses over the story of the dissolution of Whitaker's marriage and does not delve deeply enough into the source of his problems with his son. A romance with recovering junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly) rarely rings true.
  28. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 30, 2012
    75
    My biggest problem with Flight is not the unanswered questions it raises, but the eleventh-hour epiphany just in time for a happy ending. Maybe I'm naturally cynical, but I simply don't believe that people are basically good at heart - and I don't buy into sudden salvation. Otherwise, Flight is one hell of an entertainment.
  29. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Oct 17, 2012
    75
    An engaging and initially very promising drama about alcoholism, redemption and forgiveness that grows uneven and long-winded as it progresses.
  30. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Oct 31, 2012
    67
    Flight's pat closing sequences are at odds with the complexities presented earlier on. They travel the conventional route and threaten to vastly simplify this story into one of an addict's redemption. Perhaps it was inevitable that the drama on the ground could never equal the excitement of the action that occupies the movie's beginning sequences.
  31. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Nov 1, 2012
    65
    Turns out to be a disappointingly standard addiction story in its second half also serves as a reminder that Hollywood tends to be more invested in these types of self-serious movies than most actual audiences.
  32. 63
    This movie is captivating until it gets uplifting – Flight soars when it crashes and crashes when it soars.
  33. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Nov 1, 2012
    63
    Once you get past the intriguing fact that although Whip's job puts hundreds of lives into his hands on a daily basis yet he's cavalier about protecting them, the movie doesn't feel much different than any other exploration of addiction.
  34. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 1, 2012
    60
    A solid, often engrossing film that doesn't engage us overall the way Denzel Washington's work does.
  35. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Oct 31, 2012
    60
    Even if you remove the questionable quasi-religious touches, Flight doesn't quite soar past its narrative limitations. There's plenty of virtuosity to go around here - just precious little transcendence.
  36. Reviewed by: Tom Shone
    Oct 17, 2012
    60
    Next to Gump, the film has the moral force of a George Steiner essay, but what lends it that force are not the carefully calibrated moral ambiguities of the script, but the bruised, defiant soul that appears to us in the form of Denzel Washington.
  37. Reviewed by: Stan Hall
    Nov 1, 2012
    58
    What's even more amazing about the actor's absorbing, sometimes depraved performance is that while the film around him is generally cheesy and obvious, Washington is to-the-bone real.
  38. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 1, 2012
    50
    One unwelcome surprise is how shopworn the story's components prove to be. Still, they're enhanced if not redeemed by Mr. Washington's stirring portrait of a skillful, prideful pilot hitting bottom.
  39. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 1, 2012
    50
    Slowly but surely, Flight degenerates from a tale of moral paradox and wounded romance into a mid-1990s after-school special about addiction and recovery.
  40. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    Oct 16, 2012
    50
    Zemeckis intends to give us a slightly more depraved version of Washington's usual charismatic hero, then pull the rug out from him. But Flight's true downward spiral is its own loss of momentum.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 288 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 100
  2. Negative: 8 out of 100
  1. Jan 29, 2013
    8
    A very good drama about facing who we are, taking responsibility, and change to the right direction. Mr. Denzel Washington's acting was great. A little bit slow, but worth watching im my opinion. Full Review »
  2. Nov 25, 2012
    2
    Flight had a potential to be a compelling psychological and moral drama but squandered all that it built up in the last 30 minutes by pandering to the worst Hollywood stereotypes of preachy sentimental commercialism. I wanted to throw up when Denzel sanctimoniously decides to go all repentant at the hearing, and then makes his schmaltzy confession to fellow inmates. When his son (with whom he established no relationship in the film) showed with a school assignment, I was ready to strangle Zemeckis, Denzel, and especially the scriptwriter for the most saccharine sappy weepy sell out. I really don't know how any intelligent viewer could have related to that concluding half hour of the film and I can't recall any recent film that undermined itself so irredeemably. What a waste of money and talent, especially Denzel's. The recovering drug junkie's role was woefully underwritten, and only Goodman in his walk-on role can safely dissociate himself from the rest of the film. The bright spots were the secondary characters, especially the black stewardess who should have had more screen time and the dying cancer guy in the hospital. When I say the film had potential, just imagine a complex, ambiguous film where Denzel lies at the hearing (without the psychologically and dramatically ridiculous drunken binge the night before), the corporations are punished (as they should for unsafe aircrafts), Denzel retires with a nice severance package that gives him time to first realize that without cocaine he would have not saved the plane and then brings him out of the cycle of self-abuse. He moves to Jamaica with his white girlfriend. She does photography, he just chills, and in the last scene, we see them listening to raggae and smoking weed, a great pitch for legalizing marijuana. Full Review »
  3. Nov 4, 2012
    5
    From the previews this looks like the nail-biting experience of a plane crash. That's pretty true