Flightplan Suffers from Turbulence
Peter A. Dowling’s 2005 film Flightplan has now come out on DVD and VHS. It’s suppoosedly good, or at least that’s what the newspapers told me. And because the newspapers never lie, I went and paid $7.25 that would have been better used towards IHOP’s all-you-can-eat pancake dinner.
Flightplan begins with the simple premise of Jodie Foster and her daughter getting on a plane from Berlin to New York after the accidental death of her husband (he supposedly fell off a roof). Jodie and daughter Julia fall asleep and the next thing you know, Jodie is awake with no daughter in sight. Naturally, she freaks out and so the movie unfolds. People claim to have never seen her kid, Jodie goes nuts and screams “JULIA!!” at least 86 times throughout the film, and we are treated to interior shots of the weirdest airplane ever seen (it has its own bar!). Oh, and Captain Sean Bean is trying to calm her down while half-sober U.S. Marshall Peter Sarsgaard tries to make sure she doesn’t tear the plane apart.
The first half of the movie plays suspensively as a maybe-thriller. The viewer is given so little information about the nature of Jodie’s husband’s death (a surreal shot of Jodie walking with his ghost in her mind as she waits for a subway) and given a lot of feedback from the plane’s passengers, who all think she’s nuts. Evidently, none of them remember seeing Jodie with a kid, even the kids who are in the row in front. The biggest fear that we have by the time half of the movie is over is that Jodie is just imagining all of this and that we’ve wasted our money on a half-baked pseudo-psych charade, the punchline being “fooled you!” But no! It turns out that Jodie isn’t crazy and that her daughter is somewhere in the plane and that the good guys aren’t so good after all, nor are the bad guys so bad.
Sean Bean? Not a bad guy. The arabs who Jodie screams at and says she saw spying on her the night before? Nothing about them, either. The U.S. Marshall and the stewardess? There’s your terrorists!
The movie unwinds with a traceable logic but grabs at straws at every possible turn, reaching the limits of what is allowed to unfold in your typical suspense/ plane action movie. By the end, you’re so busy counting the red herrings and unresolved insinuations that you don’t even care about the who or the why. I would recommend passing this movie up and renting Executive Decision instead. At least Steven Segal gets blown out of chute 30 minutes into it.