(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)
I'm not going to give away the ending of Flightplan. In case you've been living under a rock, Flightplan is one of those surprise-ending films which seem to be very popular among filmgoers. Flightplan has been in the top two films the last three weeks and has made $60 million already in the USA. It tells the story of an aeronautical engineer (Jodie Foster) who helped design one of the new mega-planes that hold about 600 people on two decks. She and her young daughter (Marlene Lawston) board one of these planes to fly from Germany to the United States after her husband has died mysteriously in a fall. His casket is in the hold of the plane. Halfway through the flight, Foster awakes from a nap to find that her daughter has disappeared. While an increasingly anxious and paranoid Foster looks on, the crew, led by the Captain (Sean Bean), the flight attendants (Erika Christensen, Kate Beahan) and a Sky Marshall (Peter Sarsgaard), search the plane from top to bottom. Foster's daughter is nowhere to be found. Needless to say, Foster does not accept this and soon she is wearing plastic handcuffs. But a little thing like that won't stop her and soon she is making use of her encyclopaedic knowledge of the plane she helped to design. To find out more, you'll have to see Flightplan or click below.
First of all, I'd like to say how nice it is just to see Jodie Foster back on the screen. She is missed. Since her boffo performance in Contact in 1997, she has appeared in two starring roles (Anna and the King, and Panic Room), and two supporting roles (The Secret Life of Altar Boys, and A Very Long Engagement). The two starring roles were a disappointment but I highly recommend the two films where she had small roles. In Flightplan, Foster has a role that is much too similar to her role in Panic Room. And like in Panic Room, she has little to do except act crazy. In Anna and the King, she is repressed. In the other two movies, she is a paranoid. In her starring roles, Foster seems to be choosing crazy "mother" roles. I think she needs to do something different. Obviously, her film work has been limited by her having two children, one in 1998 and one in 2001. And one could speculate that this has affected her choice of starring roles. Thankfully, her supporting roles, which are very edgy and good, show that she still has the right stuff. The rest of the cast in Flightplan is pretty darn good, including perennial bad guy, Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings, National Treasure, Patriot Games), in a rare good-guy role. Indie darling, Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don't Cry, Kinsey, Garden State) has a role in Flightplan that he could do in his sleep. And he seems pretty sleepy throughout this movie. Even worse, Erika Christensen (Swimfan, The Upside of Anger), plays a flight attendant who doesn't do anything.
Most of Flightplan is great. The first two-thirds of the movie had me on the edge of my seat. But then it all slipped away. I don't know whether to blame the director, Robert Schwentke, or the writers. This kind of movie, where everything turns on a final plot twist, walks a very fine line. Sometimes, it's wonderful like in Sixth Sense, where, even if you go back and watch it again, it's hard to find an inconsistency. Sometimes, you say, "whaaaa?", like in The Village, when the final revelation makes no sense. It's even worse when the final revelation is not consistent with facts presented in the first two-thirds of the movie. Then you just feel cheated. This is the way I felt after seeing Foster's last film, Panic Room. It had a good idea but it just gets stupid. That is how I felt in Flightplan. The first two-thirds of the film are first rate. It sets everything up very well but the revelation strains credibility so much that I got mad. If you don't care about knowing the ending, click here to find out why.