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
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.
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.