Without question, the most affecting moment in Flight is the pivotal crash sequence. Less than 15 minutes into the film we are immersed in the visceral bedlam of an airplane hurtling towards the ground. Director Robert Zemeckis points his camera at any and every element of the terrifying situation, from the malfunctioning engines, to the haywire instrument panels, to the panicked passengers, allowing his pilot protagonist—Whip Whitaker—to serve as the calm center. Frequent flyers will almost certainly recall this scene the next time their plane hits some turbulence—a testament to the pure, horrifying authenticity of Flight‘s instigating moment. Unfortunately, once their plane settles back into the clouds, they’ll be left to ponder the rest of the film, and how a stellar beginning could result in such a lackluster finish.