Jodie Foster as Kyle
Peter Sarsgaard as Carson
Sean Bean as Captain Rich
Kate Beahan as Stephanie
Michael Irby as Obaid
Assaf Cohen as Ahmed
Erika Christensen as Fiona
Shane Edelman as Mr. Loud
Mary Gallagher as Mrs. Loud
Haley Ramm as Brittany Loud
Forrest Landis as Rhett Loud
Jana Kolesarova as Claudia
Brent Sexton as Elias
Marlene Lawston as Julia
Judith Scott as Estella

Flightplan is good for some light entertainment and it features a good performance by Jodie Foster, but it requires you to turn your brain off for a while and the trailers ruin a significant portion of the story.

After the tragic death of her husband in Berlin, Kyle Pratt returns to the US with her husband’s coffin and her 6 year old daughter Julia. Despite having deep depression and hallucinations, Kyle does her best to keep it together for her daughter’s sake. They board a new plane from Berlin to New York that Kyle had a personal hand in designing.

Three hours into the flight, Kyle awakes from a nap to find Julia missing. However, as she frantically searches the enormous aircraft, she is unable to find her daughter and nobody remembers seeing the child. Was Julia kidnapped? Was her daughter yet another hallucination? Is Kyle going crazy?

Flightplan is rated PG-13 for violence and some intense plot material.

What Worked:
One key to making a successful thriller is to pick up on some key fear that everyone has and play it up. Jaws did this successfully with the fear of going in the water. Psycho played up the fear of being attacked. Flightplan uses every parent’s fear of losing a child as the basis for its suspense. It does so successfully. Few things can send a person into panic mode faster than thinking their child is lost. In Flightplan, Kyle faces just such a crisis and it’s made worse by the fact that people don’t believe she really had a child on the plane in the first place. The movie does a great job of making Kyle feel like it’s her against everyone on the plane which, of course, heightens the sense of panic.

Jodie Foster delivers a fine performance as Kyle Pratt. She faces an entire range of emotions as the movie progresses. She feels sorrow and depression over the death of her husband. She feels love and protectiveness for her daughter. She feels panic and desperation as her child is lost. She feels anger and rage as she tries to get her back. Foster’s role requires a lot of her as an actress and she certainly delivers convincingly.

What Didn’t Work:
The biggest problem with Flightplan is that the trailers and commercials ruin the first hour of the film. If you haven’t seen them, I recommend you quit reading now. If you have seen them, then you know that everyone thinks Kyle is crazy, then she sees proof that her daughter really was on the flight. The film spends a LOT of time hinting that Kyle just might be crazy and that her daughter really might have been a figment of her imagination. But if you saw the commercial, then you know she’s not crazy. That ruins the first hour and seeing how this movie is a little over 1 and a half hour, it ruins most of the film.

The other problem is that Flightplan requires you to turn your brain off during the entire film. If you think too much about it, then you realize that the reason Julia disappears doesn’t make sense, is entirely improbable, and is really kind of stupid. The airplane is also pretty ridiculous. It has extremely large crawl spaces that anyone can get into. Anyone that has flown a plane knows that even the largest jets are jam packed, there is no extra space, and everything it quite secure. This plane even has a bar with dozens of bottles sitting on an open shelf and a gate that closes shut like in a mall store. The movie tries to explain this away by saying it’s a brand new model of airplane, but it violates so many basic rules of aerospace engineering that it becomes laughable. You see why you’re required to turn your brain off in order to enjoy it.

Flightplan also never really lives up to its full potential. The film starts out like it will be a Hitchcock-ian psychological thriller, but it quickly turns into a typical action film with a cheesy Hollywood ending. I kept waiting for the final twist that would blow me away, but it never happened. Don’t get your hopes up too much.

Finally, almost all of the cast besides Jodie Foster are wasted. Erika Christensen is reduced to being little more than a glorified extra as Fiona, one of the flight attendants. Sean Bean doesn’t really get to exercise any of his acting muscles as Captain Rich. Peter Sarsgaard is about the only remaining one with significant screentime as Carson, but even he’s a disappointment by the end. (I won’t go into details here, but I’ll say he seems to be getting typecast lately.)

The Bottom Line:
Flightplan is good for some light entertainment and dumb fun, but not much more. It is suspenseful, but it also requires viewers to suspend a lot of disbelief. Jodie Foster fans should be well pleased by her performance, though.