If Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) could land a doomed plane and save the lives of almost all the passengers while in the midst of a coke- and booze-fueled bender, imagine how well he'd do if he was sober. Or would he do worse? In which case, shouldn't all pilots fly loaded? These are questions that don't come up in the first half of Robert Zemeckis's thriller, which consists of an unflinching portrait of self–destructive dissipation that segues into a terrifying recreation of an airline disaster. But then things get serious with lawyers and homilies and 12-step programs, and Zemeckis trades his muscular cinematic instincts for the expected moral payoff. That's when you realize what a bad idea it is to conflate the heroism of "Sully" Sullenberger and his Hudson River landing with recent cases of busted DWI pilots. Despite Washington's gutsy performance (not unlike his role in Courage Under Fire) and John Goodman's antic turn as a drug dealer, Flight ends not with a crash but a sermon.