Formulaic, convenient and cliche. Those three words describe my opinion of Flightplan. Does that make the movie bad? No, not really, it just doesn’t make it the high-flying thriller the trailers make it out to be. If you follow in the footsteps of the thrillers before you, how can you go wrong? Unfortunately you can’t exactly do any better, which is why Flightplan fails to impress.
Jodie Foster stars as Kyle Pratt, a woman who has just lost her husband to a tragic accident after he fell off the roof of their home in Berlin. Now, with her depressed daughter in tow she has decided to pack it up and move back to New York. After boarding the plane, and tucking her daughter in for a nice peaceful nap over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean the two drift off into dreamland. Unfortunately, when Kyle wakes up she only wishes she was still dreaming as she finds her daughter missing and a plane full of passengers and a flight crew that claim to have never seen her. She isn’t even on the damn passenger manifest for crying out loud!
Flightplan is described as a Hitchcockian thriller, which it possibly could have been, but I don’t think Hitchcock would have dressed it up as much as director Robert Schwentke has. This is a film that has an opportunity to tread where films rarely tend to go, yet it quickly banks back and continues down the line of so many thrillers before it. Turning into a whodunit feature Flightplan could have very easily been a big screen “Twilight Zone,” a movie Hitchcock would have been proud to stamp with his seal of approval.
Miss Foster does manage to give her usual performance in what I heard one person describe as her very own “Panic Plane,” which really does seem to fit. Peter Sarsgaard also turns in a Sarsgaard-esque role, lazy eyes and all, as he acts as something of a moderator between Pratt and the pilot of the plane played by Sean Bean, which is where some good acting actually comes in. Bean has consistently raised the bar since his turn as Boromir in Lord of the Rings and while he is only in this feature for short stints his calm and cool nature certainly adds a bit of realism to a feature that seems so desperate to create a sense of panic that it forgets to connect with the audience.
Several moments are offered up for the audience to feel genuine concern for Foster as a mother who has just lost her child, but at the same time the plot steers you in another direction causing you to think this woman is nuts, her daughter was never even on the plane. While that is an intriguing plot point, the two arguments end up overriding the fact that this woman has lost her child, it doesn’t matter whether she was ever on the plane or not, one thing is for certain – the child is gone.
On top of that there are a few racial stereotypes, which if you spend two seconds thinking about you can guess what they would be, that simply get in the way and once you see how it is all resolved it is absolutely laughable.
Flightplan is not a horrible film, it simply doesn’t raise the bar, it may even lower it. This is a mixed bag of good and bad, a movie we have all seen before and it will probably do decent numbers at the box-office considering the talent and the fact that it is a thriller, but to think of it as anything more other than below average is giving it far too much credit.