Whip is an alcoholic, and a drug user. He’s also, heaven help us, an airline pilot, and a very good one. When things go wrong at 30,000 feet, over a densely populated area, he performs an exceptional manoeuvre and keeps the plane aloft long enough to crash land into an empty field. He’s a hero. But as the investigation digs deeper, it threatens to uncover the truth: that Whip was both drunk, and high, (medically as well as literally) at the time of the crash. With six fatalities, if they can prove that his condition, not structural failure, caused the crash, he will go to prison for the rest of his life.
Firstly, I should note that this should not be a 15, but an 18. The first ten minutes contain considerable—and wholly unnecessary—female full frontal nudity. The film as a whole contains several scenes of detailed drug use. Viewers will therefore need to exercise their discretion as to whether they watch it or not.
It’s a slightly frustrating film because the overall plot structure and message are very good. The ending is somewhat unexpected, and both positive and uplifting—which comes as something of a surprise at the end of a film which is in all other ways like watching a slow motion human train crash. (Or perhaps I should say plane crash.) But the ending redeems much about the film, not least—if you’re paying attention—the previous anti-Christian attitude. There’s a bit of a Paradise Lost thing going on with this film. For most of the film, you’re looking through Whip’s eyes, and the eyes of people like Whip—just as at the beginning of Paradise Lost, you’re seeing everything from Satan’s perspective. At the end of the film, Whip is finally seeing clearly—just as, once Paradise Lost ‘pans out’, we see from the heavenly perspective.
However, there are some serious flaws. For one thing, you have to be watching quite closely to pick up on the shift at the end, so there’s a serious possibility of coming away from the film with only the irreligious attitudes having registered. Secondly, despite the overall positive message about the fight against addiction, some of the drug use scenes—and one in particular—present drug use in such a ‘cool’ way that the film shoots its own foot off, metaphorically. Thirdly, the early nudity in particular, and detailed shots of drug use just aren’t necessary for the story or the point the film is trying to tell/make, and mar the overall effect quite badly.
So, is it worth watching? The plane crash itself is exceptionally gripping and well done. But, if I had realised how bad some of the issues were, I might not have exposed myself to the film. I watched it to the end on the grounds that it’s sometimes good to see other people’s realities—both the reality of drug users and alcoholics, which is depicted so graphically in the film, and the reality of the filmmakers, who think that such detail is acceptable to screen. BUT, I don’t think it’s necessary to ‘see other people’s realities’ in this way very often. At all. So if you’re due your once in a blue moon dose of grounding gritty graphicness, do ahead and watch it. Otherwise, you’d probably be best to give it a miss.
Shame. With better editing, it could have been a very strong morality/conversion tale.
CONTAINS: Nudity, premarital sex, drug use, some gore, intense scenes.