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Fiji Time: 4:29 PM on Saturday 30 August

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Leaves bad taste in mouth

Solomoni Biumaiono
Sunday, November 25, 2012

With the hype surrounding the release of the latest installation of the James Bond franchise I was eager to take up the twins Tama and Samu's invitation for a movie night instead of our planned yaqona binge during the Diwali holiday.

We all admitted while strolling to Village Six, that the yaqona is getting the better of us because as it seems, we cannot go without it — we're always at it seven days a week. We are all proud swipers mind you, but you are allowed to vent sometimes.

But all this time, I was just looking forward to hearing the stiff British demeanour of Daniel Craig's Bond and the superficialness of his girls. But to my disappointment, the twin Tama decided to buy tickets to the movie Flight, which I have not even heard before.

I would like to see myself as a movie buff, but Flight? I haven't heard anything about this movie before. Probably with the emphasis more on the yaqona after the movie, I wanted the whole thing over and done with.

Flight director Robert Zemeckis must have anticipated moviegoers like me, because his opening scene was a bombshell. I mean literally! A naked brunette was just getting out of bed, overemphasising Zemecki's point. And mind you, it wasn't a fleeting 10-second shot, but a sustained one, as Denzel Washington as William Whip Whitaker, emerged from under the covers, talking on the phone while the bombshell was prancing and lingering within the shot.

By now I was thinking my yaqona will have to wait because this is against everything Den-zel!

Yes, he might have taken on darker and more sinister roles in Training Day and American Gangster but seeing him in a sex scene is like getting hit by a vakalutu bowl that heaves your stomach when you're already doped. First it was the wrong movie, and now the portrayal of one of my favourite actors in an unfamiliar role. I was screaming inside myself for a bowl of the llocal brew.

Zemeckis virtually threw the whole plot into one single scene as a quick scan of the after-sex bedroom scene showed it was fuelled by alcohol, and later with Denzel snuffing drugs. The clincher was that both consenting parties are going to report to duty that morning. Denzel plays the pilot while his sex and alcohol partner is one of his own flight attendants.

When Whip bummed two vodka bottles from the aeroplane galley as the plane was cruising at altitude, I could taste the grog in my mouth already. Yes! Tonight is going to be a good Diwali holiday. I will be grogging and watching Suva play out a battleground scene in Afghanistan with all the Diwali fireworks.

Then Zemeckis woke me up from my grog dream with his filmmaking mastery as he charged straight into the airplane crash scene which is was realistic, thanks to the good acting in the cockpit scene from Denzel, with the calm and cool way he manoeuvred the plane out of a nose dive — also, largely thanks to his US Military and crop dusting flying experience.

Co-pilot Ken Evans' (Brian Geraghty) shameless, panicky and textbook responses to emergency, only added to the thriller moment. Now, we're talking!

Skyfall does not have anything on this.

Whip the man, managed to execute an emergency landing in a field somewhere outside Atlanta saving all the hundred plus passengers except for six who lost their lives.

After the aviation authorities had analysed the plane's black box and reproduced all that happened into a flight simulation, the ten pilots they asked to take the test all failed.

Whip was considered a hero until they found the two vodka bottles, and toxicology tests taken on all crew members revealed that Whip and his flight attendant playmate both had high alcohol levels in their blood while he had drugs.

At this point in the film, the taste of grog just went sour in my mouth as the whole movie went spiralling downward, heavy and depressing as it finally showed that the hero Whip has a real problem with alcohol and drugs.

Now it was Denzel's turn to shine and seeing him a very emotional state between brooding, sulking, drunk and high is like meeting with the devil you know.

It is his forte to play difficult characters and he managed to show the darker side to the hero Whip.

Don Cheadle's lawyering character amplifies this. No matter how he tried to get the hero Whip free from possible manslaughter charges and imprisonment, it was the hero Whip himself who as some would say, f#$%ed things up. He tried to find solace in a romance with another druggie played by Kelly Reilly but even she ran away from the hero Whip because of his alcohol fuelled life.

And when all he had to do to get home free was to confirm that his dead playmate air hostess had drunk the two vodka bottles in the airplane during an enquiry, the hero Whip decided to come clean and admit that he was the one who had drunk the vodka.

Zemeckis' genius and Denzel's mastery of method acting, made the movie come to life and one that made me lose all taste in grog that night.

In fact the twins called it an early night. They too probably got Zemeckis' message.


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