Cancel This 'Flight'
Brian Dukes, Up & Coming Weekly, Sept. 28, 2005 September 28, 2005
I have no idea what Jody Foster was thinking when she read the script for Flightplan. An accomplished actress, Foster should have immediately picked the script apart and saw it for the horribly boring tripe that it is. Then again, maybe I'm either smarter than Jody Foster or at least smarter than her agent. In either case, Flightplan couldn't be rescued despite Foster's efforts, and filmmakers should learn a valuable lesson here.
It's plain and simple truth - or at least in today's post-9/11 world, it should be - Americans don't like to be made uncomfortable when it comes to mass transit. There's just no accounting for taste, when a film is masqueraded as one thing, when it's really another. You see, Flightplan is sold as a film about a woman whose daughter has gone missing on a plane - while still in-flight - but that's not what it's really about.
*SPOILER ALERT* Please keep in mind I have no qualms about ruining a horrible film for anyone else, since I'd much rather you spend your money on escalating gas prices or at least on a better film, so if you don't want to know anything deeper about the film, then skip the rest of this paragraph. Fair warning given.
*highlight below for spoilers*
Instead, Flightplan is about a woman who is being framed for the attempted hijacking and destruction of a plane, it's crew and passengers. The little girl is secondary, really, to the story, as are any doubts about the mother's sanity. So, in the end, what we're given here is a film that poorly attempts to touch on ground that isn't ready yet for exploration - it futiely attempts to address themes of anti-Arab sentiment and terrorism. In effect, the film within the film here isn't up to the challenge and can't rise above the metaphor it presents. Instead, it gets bogged down by poor acting, poor dialogue, poor acting and it's just boring, which is far worse an offense.
For those of you who skipped the spoiler, good for you. You get a gold star. But you still shouldn't see this movie. And here's why: it's boring. Have I mentioned it's boring yet? Jody Foster plays a woman (Kyle - don't ask why she's got a guy's name) whose husband has just died and who is taking her daughter, Stephanie (Kate Beahan) to New York, from Berlin, to make peace and bury the casket. Kyle has had some anxiety about the death of her husband - who took a nose dive off the top of their apartment building - and has been taking some meds to deal with the stress. It just so happens that Kyle is an aerospace engineer for an airline that just so happens to make the exact kind of plane that her and her daughter are taking to New York. Hmm, can we say "stretch?" Sorry, I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief - especially at 30,000 feet.
At any rate, Kyle goes to sleep with her daughter in her arms and when she wakes up three hours later, Stephanie is gone. In a panic Kyle has the crew search the entire plane, to no avail. This raises questions about the daughter's existence, because no one, even the airline who booked the flight, can seem to remember there even being a little girl accompanying Kyle onto the plane. As her sanity is questioned Kyle's behavior becomes more erratic and she spirals out of control in a frantic search for a daughter that may or may not even be there. Toss in some suspicious looking Arab passengers, an angry, and you have the beginnings of an interesting story. But that's not what you get.
Rather than allow Kyle's sanity to move the film along, things take a turn for the worse. Instead of letting us have an intense psychological thriller that pits this woman against everyone who claims her daughter doesn't exist, what we get is a diluted version of that horrible Ray Liota airline flick. The script fails to tell a story we really care about. The director, Robert Schwentke (Tattoo), fails to get all he can out of Foster, who looks (surprise?) bored; and he also fails to use Sean Bean to his fullest, as the concerned captain of the flight. The choice of villain was equally terrible, and should have actually been Sean Bean, who would have made a much more convincing bad guy.
I like movies that are set up to produce some instant tension, and planes are easy settings. This is why Red Eye worked, albeit it's no Oscar-winner. I don't, however, like movies that insult your intelligence, as this one does. I find it wholly inconceivable that an entire airline's database, the flight crew, the captain, and all 400+ passengers would be unable to remember if a six-year-old girl was on board or not. I understand that the film attempts to question the mother's sanity, but how much better would it have been if there were "others" who either confirmed or denied the girl's existence? How much more dramatic tension would that have raised? As opposed to just one whacko who sees things.
Make reservations for another movie. This one should be cancelled.
©Up & Coming Magazine 2005