Written by Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Running Time: 1:37
for violence and some intense plot material.
Flightplan was a serviceable thriller that had a decent amount of chills, a little bit of mystery, but a story that felt flat.
Kyle and her daughter Julia are flying from Germany to New York aboard a new wave, double decker plane. Kyle's husband died a few days earlier, and they're transporting the body back to the States for burial. While on the plane, Julia disappears, and a frantic Kyle goes almost insane looking for her. The problem is, no one believes that Julia was ever on the plane to begin with. Is Kyle out of her mind with grief from the death of her husband? Or did someone kidnap Julia right out from underneath the noses of over 400 passengers?
As a movie, Flightplan wasn't too bad. It looked good, had some good, even great actors (Jodie Foster may be my favorite actress of all time) and it moved quickly. But as a story, Flightplan had issues. Warning, the rest of this review will contain spoilers. The movie is set up as a bit of a mystery, and at first, it's well done. We see Kyle (interesting name choice for a female character by the way) having some visions of a husband we know is dead. And as she heads to the airport and boards the plane, we never actually see anyone acknowledge Julia, so when, later in the film, people all start thinking Julia never existed, we think it's possible. The problem of course is, we've all seen The Sixth Sense and countless other knockoffs since, so no one ever goes into this movie believing what we see and hear. We know there's gonna be a twist, so we keep looking for it. And considering it was only at the 45 minute mark where it seems Kyle has accepted that her daughter died with her husband, we know that something else has got to happen. And then it does.
Not everyone on the plane is who they seem. There are enough recognizable co-stars that you just know one of them will turn out to be a bad guy. Throwing in some Arab characters is an obvious red herring, because in this day and age, you can't throw in a random Arab character and make them the only bad guy. When we find out who the turncoat is, I thought, OK, I suppose they weren't a bad choice, but then I want to know why. Now, in this kind of movie, the why happens for only a handful of reasons. Power, money, revenge, or just because (otherwise known as insanity.) And I realized that after setting me up for almost an hour before revealing the traitor, no reason would have been good enough. And there is the inherent problem with a lot of these types of movies. The payoff is never able to live up to the hype preceding it. What reason could someone possibly have to kidnap a six-year-old girl, put 415 passengers at risk, and make it seem as if the girl's mother was a terrorist? And the reason the writers end up giving us is arguably the lamest of the lot. Money. And not even a lot of it (at least in today's dollars.) And there's no reason why they want that much money to begin with! Why, out of the millions of people in the world, they chose this one person to torment. No explanation during or at the end of the movie, where sometimes you get some character expounding upon why the bad guy did what they did.
The sad thing is, I knew about 20 minutes in to the movie that I was gonna be disappointed with the ending. In fact, just from the premise, I knew the movie was going to be hard to take. How on Earth does someone make a kid disappear on a plane? How can NO ONE see her?? If the conspiracy involved EVERYONE on board, then maybe. Or if the whole thing turned out to be a big dream, then maybe. But the conspiracy, as it was, didn't go all that deep, so again I ask, how is it possible to take a kid and have NO ONE see it happen? As much as I love Jodie Foster, Sean Bean and Peter Sarsgaard, as slick as the movie was directed, and as tense as it got at times, I know that there was no way the movie could possibly surprise and impress me. As far as the acting goes, with those three actors, you know you're going to get good performances. Jodie Foster has got that whole 'I'm scared, but I'm fighting for something (someone) I believe in, so no one will stop me' thing down pat. So this role was right in her wheelhouse. Sarsgaard has always impressed me because he seems so simple, but he's got something simmering underneath at all times. And Sean Bean is just cool. I did wonder what Erika Christensen was doing in the film. I've never been overly impressed with her, but she has headlined her own film before, so why take a small supporting role like this? And as I said before, the directing was slick and the movie was well-paced. Nothing too slow, no scenes too annoying, and enough role players to keep it somewhat lighthearted.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I have mixed feelings for Flightplan. I liked the actors, I liked how the movie clicked along, but the story was never going to be able to survive and that made the movie a little hard to appreciate.
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