Sunday, October 02, 2005

Movie Review: Flightplan

United States, 2005
U.S. Release Date: 9/23/05
Running Time: 1:28
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, profanity)
Cast: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan, Erika Christensen, Marlene Lawston

Director: Robert Schwentke
Producer: Brian Grazer
Screenplay: Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray
Music: James Horner
Studio: Touchstone Pictures


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Taking on only her sixth role in ten years, Jodie Foster tackles the task of playing a bereaved mother in distress. Similar to her most recent role in 2002’s Panic Room, Foster puts her guts and brains to the test and allows the waterworks to flow for her young daughter. However, unlike the airtight, white-knuckling, and entirely feasible Panic Room, Flightplan is mild on might, mediocre on suspense, and not wholly credible.

While aboard a newly-designed double-decker 474 airplane, aeronautics engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodi Foster) awakens to find that her six-year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston) is missing. The funny thing is: when Kyle demands the crew to search for her only offspring, not one soul onboard even remembers ever seeing the child. In fact, the airline’s records show that her seat was never paid for, and when the plane left the ground, it was unoccupied. Already tried by the recent death of her husband, Kyle must prove her sanity to the captain (Sean Bean) or else solve the mystery on her own.

Flightplan is much like The Forgotten in a sense that the female protagonist’s child disappears, and despite what the mother exclaims, the lack of evidence dismisses her claims and deems them senseless. Even so, Flightplan is a step ahead; its lead is capable of carrying the picture beyond its inconsistencies, and as a thriller, the production is bearable.

Perhaps, the film’s most redeeming quality is the adamancy that Foster exhibits. She is absolutely unrelenting in her search to unite with her daughter, whom she believes to be alive. Unlike her costars, her emotions run high. Peter Sarsgaard, fresh off of his make-out scene with Liam Neeson, is largely lethargic, yet convincing when he needs to be. On the other hand, Erika Christensen, Sean Bean, and Marlene Lawston are all underused.

While Flightplan is a tad mindless, especially in both clarifying some of its unclear aspects and justifying how a few conversations go unheard, it still doesn’t come up bankrupt—like so many airline companies today. Even though one scene in particular – where the aircraft’s passengers applaud – is inexplicable and the screenwriters come off as a little lazy, Flightplan still remains mostly engrossing. Sadly, if you have seen the trailer, you already know nearly 70% of the storyline.

Flightplan doesn’t exactly soar, yet it doesn’t necessarily crash and burn either. The million-dollar question is: are its errors subtle enough for the majority to overlook them? Unfortunately, the answer is no. (**1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2005