IF YOU have seen the dramatic trailer for Flight, be warned - the film itself is not as it has been advertised.
On paper, it seems to be a promising action thriller; the always reliable Denzel Washington is its star, director Robert Zemeckis has finally ditched motion capture animation to return to live action, and it's built around a nerve-shredding central set-piece in which a plane gets into serious trouble.
But its key issue is absent from the trailer completely, as it's really all about an addict getting caught up some serious trouble.
The cameras start rolling on Denzel's character, Captain William 'Whip' Whitaker, getting coked up with a naked stewardess in a hotel room, smoking weed and still drinking the morning after the night before. But another snort, it's implied, sorts him out for his morning flight to Atlanta and he boards, despite the concerns of a co-pilot. The plane is quickly struggling in atrocious conditions.
Despite being drunk and high, Whip is the calm in the face of the storm, inverting the plane to stop the spin in an extremely well-executed action sequence (which will have nervous travellers trembling in their seats), landing in a field and saving the lives of most of the passengers and crew.
Simultaneously, former junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly) falls off the wagon, visits a porn set to score a hit, and ends up in hospital. Whilst there, she encounters a recovering Whip in a stairwell, and the lost souls make a connection, sharing Whip's father's home before establishing a tentative romantic relationship.
Whip's attempts to start over, however, are threatened by his own demons and by an investigation into the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board. The latter is something his union rep (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer (Don Cheadle) will try everything to get him through with a clean slate.
Unfortunately for Flight, the signs of turbulence kick in fairly early on and increase throughout, making for what's ultimately quite a dull and predictable journey with a pat movie-of-the-week ending.
Although Denzel has been Oscar nominated and certainly doesn't let himself down, he in no way approaches the great under-the-influence cinematic performances of the past, such as, say, Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas or Christian Bale in The Fighter. We, as the audience, aren't given much to root for with this character, and are therefore alienated from whatever outcome Whip must face.
Despite hopes that a twist might be coming - something, anything - our destination doesn't turn out to be that interesting and nothing really that worthy of the audience's attention eventually arises.
Characters come and go, pointlessly -particularly John Goodman as Whip's dealer, who seems to have been included as a way to blast multiple classic Rolling Stones tunes on the soundtrack - and plotlines fade into nothing, including the laughable conclusion to the story arc concerning the suspicious colleague.
Whatever anyone expected from Flight, it wasn't this muddled affair.