The makers of Flightplan want to cut a deal with you: They will provide a short, snappy Panic Room-style Jodie Foster thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat for most of its running time. In exchange, you must agree to accept the premise of the movie without subjecting it to scrutiny.
Jodie Foster and Marlene Lawston
The premise goes like this: During a flight from Berlin to New York, a mother claims that her young daughter has disappeared. The terrified woman, whose husband died just a few days earlier, states that the disappearance of her daughter's luggage from an overhead bin - which the girl certainly could not have reached - proves that an adult was involved.
Pretty creepy, eh? But wait, there's more. No one on the plane has actually seen the daughter. The crew dutifully begins a search of the huge, state-of-the-art vehicle, while the question looms ever larger: Did the girl ever get on the plane in the first place, or is everyone being drawn into the delusion of a woman who has gone mad with grief?
I decided to go along with the premise and found myself swept into the nightmare. Well, more or less. Every few minutes the logical part of my brain would say, "Hey, wait a minute," but the rest of my noggin - the part that sits through Prison Break each week - shouted it down. "It's a high concept thriller, just shut up and enjoy it," I told myself.
You can choose to do the same thing. The movie, directed by Robert Schwentke from a screenplay by Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray, does a nice job of keeping viewers square in the middle of the mother's horrific plight. The camerawork and editing is, for the most part, snazzy without overdoing it and the James Horner score is effective. As for Jodie Foster, she is both compelling and credible, which should come as a surprise to no one. At a mere 88 minutes, Flightplan is a thriller that works, even if the last few minutes are less like Alfred Hitchcock and more like Jerry Bruckheimer.
So there you go. If you are planning to see the movie, STOP READING RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS THAT COULD AFFECT YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THE FILM.
If you're still with me, remember: You have been warned. While I'm not going to give away the specifics of the story, I must address that pesky premise. There are really only four possibilities for the situation Jodie Foster's character finds herself in. The first is that she really is deluded. The second is that she is lying and has a sinister agenda for the flight. The third is that someone impulsively snatched her daughter and the fourth is that the disappearance of the girl is part of some elaborate plan.
The most unlikely possibility is the fourth. After all, how could anyone put together an elaborate plan that hinges on no one noticing that a young girl is on an airplane? No one, including the gate staff, the onboard crew and all of the people sitting near the mother and daughter. Oh sure, we see the sad little girl sitting on the floor in front of her seat, but still, someone would surely notice her, at least one of the hundreds of people on the aircraft, so constructing an elaborate plan around such an unlikely event is simply ridiculous, an insult to our intelligence, right? In fact, it would be quite annoying, wouldn't it?
I stated earlier that I wouldn't give away the specifics of the story, so I had best stop here.
Hooray for Hollywood.