Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a pilot that uses drugs and alcohol and Mays services. The night before a routine 50-minute flight, he parties with Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez). Arriving the next morning to fly the plane, he is clearly drunk. The liftoff is rough but Whitaker’s skill under the influence is still intact, even though impaired. The aircraft breaks through the clouds to a clear sky but on descent develops mechanical problems. Whip lands the aircraft on a wide-open field near a church after flying the aircraft upside down to level it out after a powerful nosedive.
Though most survive the crash, the aviation commission begins its investigation to reconstruct the landing and Whip gets a lawyer (Don Cheadle) for his defense. Whip by now has comes to some new terms with his drug and alcohol problem. While in the hospital he meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly) who is desperately trying to break her drug habit and attends AA meetings. This could have been another story than the one we got at this point but it is not over yet.
Whip has been lying pretty much his entire adult life and lost his wife and son to the illness of alcoholism. Head stewardess Margaret Thomason (Tamara Tunie) confirms that she endured 11 years of Whip's habit. The consequences for innocent passengers who put their faith in the pilot are severe and becomes an abuse of public trust.
"Flight" serves up an authentic treatment of an alcoholic who has a hard time getting honest with himself and the havoc alcohol and drugs has on his life.
Denzel Washington is up for best actor at the Academy Awards and the credibility of the film rests on his excellent performance.