Flight Plan Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
October 31st, 2005

"Flightplan" Veers a Bit Too Much
by Homer Yen
(c) 2005

In "Flightplan," a distraught woman named Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) has a problem. She has either lost her daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston) or she has lost her mind while on board an airliner. Because the Pratt character is intelligent and seemingly rational, we'd like to believe her. Yet, because crew members and passengers don't recall the daughter and view her with varying degrees of doubt, we aren't so sure.
The movie tries to be something of a thriller. There is a pervasive ominous feeling. The lighting seems to have a muted brightness. There are creepy wind effects to keep you on edge. And the accompanying score features an ostensible tremolo of grating bass notes on the piano. If claustrophobia is your thing, you'll be happy to know that the major part of the movie takes place within a jet. It'll be good fun in tight spaces.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Pratt looks perpetually nervous as if she knows that something strange will happen. Foster is a very good actress. Here, she embodies the frightened and overprotective mother with tremendous conviction. Yet, as we will later see, she also possesses courage and resourcefulness. This is a strong woman.

A character that may help and hinder her include the jet's pilot (Sean Bean). Bean finally gets to play a different kind of role. Instead of being the smug corporate power-monger, now he's the pilot who is at first sympathetic to her cause. Every airline should have a pilot like him. Another prominent character is the air marshal (Peter Sarsgaard) who has to try to keep Pratt calm as she begins to go through what might be described as mood swings. She's delusional, calm, and then impetuous. Somebody give her an anxiety pill! It's a darn good thing that the stewardesses are very well-trained in case of various emergencies. Their training will be put to the test as Pratt finds ways to inadvertently disrupt the plane ride as she is convinced that her daughter is in danger.

However, how many hiding places can there be? Well, Pratt knows that there are several galleys and cargo holds that a little girl can find her way into. How does she know? Because, Pratt was involved in the design of the plane. And, this knowledge comes in really handy when we approach the final act of the film. What happens, I will leave you to see for yourself. But, the film does a good job of keeping you in your seat as nothing is what it seems. One baffling situation after another pops up, and inquiring minds want to know what's going on.

The film veers to the left and right and then left again. It seems to lose track about midway through the film as we begin to grow tired of her manic paranoia and as the feeling of the film seems to venture into familiar territory. But, it throws in another twist to give this slowing film a needed boost. As you watch the film unfold, you intently follow her through every step, trying to guess, like she is, what's going on. Understandably, with all of its twists and turns, you will reflect upon this film and find the development of the story kind of preposterous. But, "Flightplan" holds our attention during the flight. The fun is in getting there.

Grade: B-

S: 0 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 1 out of 3

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