Thu, 20 Oct 2005
The initial impression of this film as a taut and intelligent thriller only serves to make it look worse in the long run when it degenerates into a typical piece of Hollywood "cloak and dagger" gumpf as it tries to be too clever for its own good and really only ends up looking messy.
That's not to say that it's without merit: the first hour or so sets up a fascinating premise for what could have become one of the most interesting psychological thrillers of the year. Add to that the considerable acting talents of Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard and the sneaky insertion of Sean Bean and there seems little that can go wrong. But it does… after about an hour precisely.
The final 30 minutes is a mish-mash of film clichés and certainly not the intriguing action thriller that was originally promised. The writing becomes sloppy and sluggish, giving one the feeling that the scriptwriters either ran out of time or just got lazy.
Jodie Foster plays Kyle, who is taking her daughter Julia and the body of her mysteriously deceased husband from Berlin back to the US. Both are devastated by their loss and cling to each other as their only sources of comfort, so when Julia disappears during their flight, Kyle is understandably very upset and causes a huge ruckus to try and find her daughter.
While at first passengers and cabin crew are eager to help, the efforts start to wane when it becomes clear that no one other than Kyle has seen Julia on the flight — she isn't on the flightplan and didn't show up in the headcount. In short, the girl doesn't exist.
And so, along with the occupants of the plane, in true 'Sixth Sense' mode, the audience starts questioning Kyle’s sanity. After all, she's just suffered a terrible loss so maybe she isn’t as stable as everyone thought. And not being the most likeable character to begin with, Kyle does little to remedy her situation by accusing people left, right and centre and coming up with conspiracy theories that would impress even Dan Brown.
Soon you don’t know what to believe and that's the biggest appeal of 'Flightplan'. Like a pendulum you sway between thinking Kyle is delusional to thinking she's merely a distressed woman who can't find her daughter.
From a technical point of view the film is near faultless. Cinematography is slick, while the direction (when it's there) is subtle. The cast too is excellent and all play their part in ensuring that 'Flightplan' doesn't crash in the acting department.
Jodie Foster is her normal convincing self, easily making the transition from a wounded yet calm widow to what can only be described as a raging lunatic as she becomes more and more frustrated with her plight.
Sean Bean, as the 'Doubting Thomas' pilot, anchors the movie within the bounds of reality and still manages to retain an unsettling air of mystery and, of course, charm. Even Peter Sarsgaard as the in-flight security attendant is competent in his fairly unchallenging and one dimensional role.
But even the combination of all these elements isn’t enough to salvage the mess of the final 30 minutes that leave 'Flightplan' somewhat battered and overblown.
'Flightplan' is one of those movies that disappoints simply because it could have been so much more.