The Good

Something about Jodie Foster makes the setups for these movies believable.

The Bad

This movie becomes completely unbelievable towards the end.

Flightplan is the kind of movie that I thought the American public would see right through. Made for $55 million and grossing $90, this movie pushed an angle that would probably ensure a least a decent return. Jodie Foster searching for her missing daughter aboard a plane. Foster plays Kyle Pratt, a woman who has lost her husband and is flying back to America with her daughter. Well, every parent’s nightmare comes true when after waking up from a nap, Kyle finds that her daughter is missing. Unfortunately, the crew of the plane don’t know who they are dealing with because it turns out that Kyle designed the plane. So what we have is an enclosed thriller, very much in the vein of Hitchcock, that also happens to be timely and make reference to the post 9/11 environment in which the film is set.

While this movie keeps raising the stakes and raising the stakes, it is actually quite enjoyable. Sadly, you just know that the film is going to back itself into a corner, and instead of really thinking up an interesting story (ala The Forgotten), the movie just devolves into the completely inane. What’s worse is seeing an actor like Peter Sarsgaard actually having to go along with the ending. However, despite how bad I think this movie ultimately gets, I think for 80% of the ride it is a lot of fun, which probably explains why it was able to do well in the marketplace.

Features

The In-Flight Movie: The Making of Flightplan

This “making of” is done in such a way that potential viewers are somewhat left in the dark about this film’s conclusion. This is good too because this movie would have had no chance if people knew the ending outright. In fact, it isn’t even so much the ending, as the elements of the ending, that just don’t make any sense. That aside, this “making of” is an electronic press kit of sorts that only touches on the movie in a cursory way. The cast and crew discuss making this movie, what it is like working together and the challenges of creating suspense inside such a closed area.

Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalto E-474 Featurette

The Aalto E-474 is the plane that the majority of this movie takes place in. We are essentially shown how this plane was put together. It begins with the concept and from there it goes to it’s overall design and how it looks in the film. I found this to be very interesting, simply from a logistical standpoint. At no point in this movie did I think they were on a set. It always felt like they were really in the air in a real plane. As a result of this, that helped put across the reality of this movie.

Filmmaker Audio Commentary

Robert Schwentke is on this commentary track breaking down how he made this film. I found this to be pretty interesting, although there were times I think it got a little stale. He talks about working with the actors (why he thought Foster would be good in this role), making a thriller in such a closed off environment as an airplane and how he got the look of certain shots. Not the most interesting of audio tracks but still one worth checking out.

Video

Widescreen (2.35:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. This film looks really sharp. It started off with a sort of dreamy quality and I got really scared. If this ended up being one of those movies where Foster was dead and everyone else was alive, I was going to probably hang myself before the movie ended. Thankfully, this was not the case. The scenes in the airplane were tightly constructed and play very well. In fact, the tension escalates so much and involves so many different characters, that I really got lost in this movie’s look and style.

Audio

Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound - DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound - French and Spanish Language Tracks - French and Spanish subtitles. I can best describe the sound in this movie as “TV audio.” It just seems to have that quiet feel that so many of today’s shows employ. Yet, I wasn’t really bothered by that here. I think this is because this movie, while having a fair share of dialogue in it, isn’t that dialogue driven. There is so much action going on that we really never get mired in the moments where Foster, or one of the other actors, might only be talking in a whisper.

Package

The front cover photo of the dark, blue eyed Foster is the same one they used to market this movie when it came out in theaters. The fact that off of this poster alone (with no other one sheet images, I believe) the film made $90 million, certainly says something about Jodie Foster’s box office power. The back cover features 4 shots from the movie, all meant to convey suspense in one form or another, some critic’s quotes, a description of Flightplan, a “Bonus Features” listing, a technical specs listing and of course a cast list. This packaging is fairly standard but I guess any other moneys this movie brings in is all gravy, right?

Final Word

Why is Jodie Foster so good in these movies? I don’t know what it is but there is something about her that is genuinely believable. Maybe I want to root for her for some reason? I just found that in both Flightplan and Panic Room, she had a way of really making the films work. Even though the situations become very hard to fathom, I was still on the edge of my seat until she was safe. I can’t really put my finger on why I feel this way. It isn’t because of some paternal instinct I have. It isn’t because I find her a meek character in a “woman in jeopardy” thriller. Perhaps, she just happens to be such a good actress, she can get passed all the pratfalls that might take down lesser talents?

Flightplan is certainly a movie I would recommend if you missed it in the theater. It is highly entertaining and enjoyable... for the most part.

Flightplan was released September 22, 2005.