Film of the week - Flight (15, 138 mins)

Denzel Washington soars to career highs in Robert Zemeckis’s emotionally wrought character study of an airplane pilot wrestling with alcohol dependency.

Underpinned by John Gatins’s intelligent script, Flight is a provocative drama that refuses to cast judgment on the central character as he repeats past mistakes and attempts to dodge the repercussions of his reckless actions.

Captain William “Whip” Whitaker (Washington) wakes in a plush hotel room festooned with discarded bottles and the naked body of last night’s conquest, flight attendant Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez).

Swigs of beer set Whip up for the day and he strides purposefully into the cockpit of his SouthJet flight to Atlanta while holding a bottle of orange juice spiked with vodka.

Katerina is on board, serving passengers alongside experience colleague Margaret Thomason (Tamara Tunie).

A routine flight becomes a nightmare when the airplane suddenly loses altitude and hurtles towards the ground at terrifying speed.

Whip is forced to perform a daredevil manoeuvre to halt the rapid descent before crash-landing in a field.

A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, led by Ellen Block (Melissa Leo), threatens to expose Whip’s alcoholism.