Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) wakes before it's time to take off on a new flight, after an evening of drinking and sex with one of his plane's stewardesses, Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez). Still trying to rouse himself from his hangover, his phone rings, and he answers a call from his ex-wife Deana (Garcelle Beauvais). Deana wants to discuss putting their son through a private school, but Whip doesn't want to discuss it at the moment, claiming he'll talk to her about it when he gets back to
While Katerina quickly heads off to the airport to prepare, Whip is unable to collect himself until he snorts a line of cocaine. This wakes him up, and he is next headed to the airport, where rain pounds the building and the airplanes. Whip does a quick inspection of the airplane, then enters into the airplane, speaking with a flight attendant named Margaret (Tamara Tunie), and meeting his co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty).
Ken seems a little apprehensive of Whip (who is wearing sunglasses), but goes along with his story that he's alright to fly. The plane takes off through rain, and Whip pushes it higher and faster, attempting to find a break in the clouds, causing the ride to seem downright turbulent. However, once Whip finds a break in the storm, the plane stabilizes, and the passengers applaud.
Shortly after this, Whip addresses the passengers personally, while secretly pouring some mini-vodka bottles into a bottle of orange juice. After disposing of the bottles, Whip returns to the cockpit, and naps while Ken takes over.
A sudden jolt stirs Whip, before the plane suddenly pitches into an uncontrolled dive. Steering mechanisms don't respond, and numerous houses can be seen out the window. Staying relatively calm, Whip has the plane's fuel ditched, before proposing a crazy maneuver: roll the airplane! With Ken and Margaret's help, Whip inverts the plane upside down, leveling it out, before rolling it to crash-land on its belly in a field near a small church. The impact slams Whip's head against the steering mechanism, knocking him out.
Whip awakens in an Atlanta hospital with minor injuries. He is greeted by his old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood), who now represents the airline's pilots union. He tells Whip his heroism saved 96 of 102 people on board. An NTSB official informs him Katerina was among those killed, and that Evans has been put into a coma.
When he meets Charlie and attorney Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), they explain that the NTSB performed a toxicology screen while he was unconscious in the hospital that revealed he was intoxicated, which could result in Whip going to prison on both drug and manslaughter charges. Lang promises to get the toxicology report ruled inadmissible on technical grounds, but Whip leaves in a fury and takes refuge in his father’s farm.
Watch how this action-drama unfolds and climaxes on a down-to-earth airline pilot hailed nationwide in America as a hero for saving the lives of almost everyone on his flight under the able ‘navigation’ of Director Robert Zemeckis of Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and other great film credits’ fame.
Director Robert Zemeckis returns to pure live-action filmmaking with Flight, which also marks the first non-action/thriller to star two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington since he directed himself in the 2007 inspirational true-story drama The Great Debaters. As much excitement as there is among cinephiles to see both the director and actor getting back to their roots, so to speak.