Starring: Jodie Foster, Sean Bean, Peter Sarsgaard, Kate Beahan, Marlene Lawston
Running time: 97 mins
After her husband’s death, propulsion engineer Kyle Pratt (Foster) and her daughter Julia (Lawston) embark on a journey from their Berlin home to Kyle’s parents in the US. However, her plans soon take a turn for the worse on the flight when she unwisely takes a nap and awakes to find no sign of Julia. Distraught, she seeks help from the air crew, the plane’s stern captain (Penn) and air marshall (Sarsgaard). Since everyone denies that Julia was ever on the flight, Kyle sets about trying to find her missing daughter, conveniently armed with the knowledge of the aircraft’s layout.
As usual, Foster offers a very strong performance as the frustrated mother in search of her child, and Bean does well as the stubborn yet kind-hearted captain. Meanwhile Sarsgaard, whose character ought to have been portrayed as ambiguous throughout, plonks his performance a little too firmly on one side of ambiguity which does little to add to the suspense.
At the foundations of Flightplan is an excellent premise with great potential, and an interesting (if far-fetched plot). Unfortunately though, this potential is never fully realised due to ill-conceived twists and subplots, and a habit of trying to create a sense of mystery when really there is none. Although some of these twists and hints to some deeper mystery serve to fuel the suspense and keep you somewhere near to the edge of your seat, they’re the kind that really don’t make much sense on reflection. When these undeveloped subplots are stripped away, there is surprisingly little left.
For the first hour or so, the movie is an enjoyable psychological thriller – a mystery which is a pleasure to watch unfold. However, it does a very poor job of unfolding after a certain point, taking away any element of thoughtfulness and expecting the audience to overlook a number of unexplained holes in the plot.
Flightplan is by no means a bad way of spending an hour and a half, since it is generally well-acted, evokes some effective claustrophobic suspense and has at its heart a compelling plot. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t reach its potential by becoming muddled and suffering from some plot holes you could fly a plane through.