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"...fasten your seatbelts and put your tray and seat back to the "exciting" position."










The Masked Reviewer

The totally original concept: a woman trapped, trying to save her family.  Okay, maybe it's a bit like Dead Calm, where Nicole Kidman was on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a madman.  But, this time it's Jodie Foster.  Okay, Jodie Foster was trapped in a big metal closet in Panic Room in an effort to save her family, but this is a completely different movie.  This is on a plane.  That's never been done before, unless you count the film Red Eye from a couple of weeks ago.  But other than that, this is totally original.

At least, that's what the Masked Reviewer thought until it was pointed out to him that many of the key elements of Flightplan were lifted directly from a 1979 film starring Elliot Gould and Cybil Shepherd!  Not only that, but that film was a remake of The Lady Vanishes, a 1938 film by Alfred Hitchcock (tee-hee!).  And that film was a rip-off of a book by Ethel Lina White.  And her name was probably stolen from Lucy Ricardo's next door neighbor.  Well, scratch that last part.

So, we start with kind of a tired premise that's been ripped off from Hitchcock (tee hee!) -- is it any good?

Supporting Jodie Foster are Peter Sarsgaard (who you may remember from Garden State -- he's basically a poor man's John Malkovich) and Sean Bean (who you may remember from Golden Eye, Patriot Games, or Lord of the Rings).  Not to give too much away, but the film revolves around Jodie Foster doing what many of us have wished other parents would do on a long flight -- she completely loses her kid.  Vanished.  Poof.

Now, there's no denying that Jodie Foster is a fine actor.  So are Sean Bean and Peter Sarsgaard (even though the 'a' key seems to get stuck down on his keyboard).  But, Jodie Foster's performance is very similar to her performance in Panic Room.  It's the distraught mother, everyone's against her, desperate to get help, but having to rely on herself.  She's got it down.  It's good...but it's not very different from that film.  But hey, there are plenty of actors who make a living doing the same part over and over and over again, and many don't do work that's anywhere close to the same caliber of Jodie Foster's performance.

Here's the thing with Flightplan.  It's fine while you watch it, and while never really "believable", it's done well enough that you can go along for the ride.  If you start thinking about the events in the film after it's over, you'll realize that the writing is incredibly weak.  The whole premise is absurd and never would have worked.  Watch the film and then think about whether things would have unfolded the way they did.  They cheated.  No fair. 

They also don't try very hard to explain Jodie Foster's intimate knowledge of the airplane she's on.  Apparently, she's a propulsion engineer and worked on the plane's engines.  But, somehow, she knows all of the operating systems of the plane and the interior schematics inside and out.  Don't propulsion engineers work on...oh, perhaps...PROPULSION?  What does the electrical system inside a plane have to do with propulsion?  If there's a propulsion engineer in the house, please send a note to the Masked Reviewer.

Erika Christensen plays a friendly stewardess (or air-hostess, or aviation server, or whatever the hell they're called).  She seems like she should be Julia Stiles, but isn't.  She makes a career of being very similar to Julia Stiles, but just a little bit less expensive.  In fact, the big budget version of the film would have had Julia Stiles in Erika Christensen's role, John Malkovich in Peter Sarsgaard's role, and Richard Harris from twenty-five years ago (you know, before he was dead) in Sean Bean's role.  Instead, they blew all of their Stiles/Malkovich/Harris resurrection money on buying a big plane.  Whatever happened to models on wires?  (As opposed to models that are wired, hello Kate Moss!)

The film even touches on racism geared toward Arabs.  It really stops and makes you think.  It makes you think "couldn't they have come up with a better script?"

What would have really helped this movie along would have been if there was a gremlin on the wing of the plane.  Maybe William Shatner could have been in the seat across the aisle from Jodie Foster.

If you're a big fan of movies with people trapped on planes (like Red Eye, Turbulence, Passenger 57, Airplane, Airplane II, etc) then the setting will appeal to you in Flightplan.  If you loved Panic Room  and wished there was a spiritual prequel, this will be for you.  If you're a huge fan of Jodie Foster's, this movie will be right up your runway.  If you want a thriller that's entertaining while you watch it, but the more you think about it the more preposterous you think it all was, then fasten your seatbelts and put your tray and seat back to the "exciting" position.  This movie is much better than sitting through a two hour flight with screaming kids that kick the back of your chair. 


Expectation from the Title: When Sally decides to break the World Record for Efficient Stewardessry, she spends six months laying out the quickest pattern in which to chuck peanuts in the cabin.  As interesting as that sounds, it's not that exciting.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Jodie Foster seems like she'd be a good mother, other than always getting her kid's into trouble.

The Pros: Good acting, good pacing.

The Cons: Silly premise that's been done before.  Jodie Foster has done this role before.  Some weak writing.  Hard to suspend disbelief at times.

Jodi Foster, Peter Skarsgard, Peter Skaarsgard, Peter Saarsgard, Shawn Bean, Erica Christensen, Flight Plan, Robert Schwenke are all here.

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