Wednesday, February 25, 2015


This past Sunday, when discussing the fruit of the Spirit, we discussed gentleness.   The point was made that when we try to model this fruit, we look to God to show us what that fruit ought look like.   So to have the fruit of gentleness, we need to look to God's own gentleness.  It brought up something taught to me by a pastor of mine in NJ, Rev. Richard Linderman.  He would (and I do now) say that faced with our sinful condition, God had 4 options--annihilation, abandonment, assuming control, or assistance.   I was reminded how this theme arose in the film "Flight".  Some time ago, I wrote a review of that movie and posted it to FB. Here is that review.

Given the heavy duty theological overtones of the movie Flight, I was shocked to find no reviewer discussing them.  So, I made my own review.

Given the sad state of our human condition after the fall, God basically had four options—1) annihilate us, 2) abandon us, 3) assume control over us, or 4) assist us.  Obviously, annihilation was a choice not exercised.  Robert Zemeckis’ Flight (DVD release—Feb. 5, 2012) examines sinner/saint pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) as he inadvertently takes a trip where he will discover which of those three remaining choices is the true God.

By initial appearances, Whip is more sinner than saint as he starts his morning after a hard night with a little beer, a little pot and good amount of cocaine—and that, just to get to his job as a pilot making a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta.  But in a broken plane and foul weather, Whip becomes a hero by pulling off a landing that no other pilot would have dared, much less completed.  Robert Zemeckis who directed Cast Away (2000) with Tom Hanks has a talent for filming plane disasters, and Flight’s sequence will leave even an experienced flyer tightening his belt on his next 727 ride.

Whip’s flight, however, is just taking off as the investigation into the crash begins, and subsequently, the investigation of Whit’s world of addiction secrets.  Like the famous Magee poem, High Flight, Whip has slipped the surly bonds of drugs, alcohol, and the mundane world of commercial piloting into the sanctity of a new space where he will be—whether he desires it or not—close enough to touch the face of God.  But which God is it?  The uncaring God of abandonment who in apathy or caprice hands out cancer to people like Whip’s fellow cigarette smoker in the hospital stairwell?  Is it the divine puppeteer who controls everything “for a reason” as his co-pilot counsels?  Is there no God other than Whip himself as he jokes?

With a star power like Denzel Washington, the acting alone would probably make this movie worthwhile.  Washington definitely brings his best talent to the film and you flip among rooting for Whip, loathing him, and just shaking your head at him in disgust and pity.  But the supporting cast is strong as well.  This is particularly true of Don Cheadle as Whit’s lawyer who is giving a defense better than Whip deserves, and Kelly Reilly as Whip’s short term love interest whose point in the film seems only to demonstrate how quickly Whip can go from saint to sinner.  In fact, if the film has its weaker points, it is in its inability to bring its characters into the story and use them for anything but Whip’s benefit.  Or is Zemeckis simply treating these characters as Whip does?

Flight is a movie about alcohol and drug abuse, and there is enough going those things going on to give the film its R-rating.   And Zemeckis makes it inglorious enough to nauseate the viewer at times.  There is also nudity and foul language.  With rare exception, I would likely honor its rating.

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