A movie that could have been a lot better than it is but was a lot better than I was expecting, "Flightplan" stars Jodie Foster as a seemingly crazy mother who loses her daughter on an airplane. Large plot holes aside, "Flightplan" is a moderately entertaining thriller with a couple of twists - it's up to you to decide whether the twists are really good or really bad.
An airplane engineer (Foster) and her daughter board her newly-designed airplane on its maiden voyage, but when she wakes up her daughter is missing. After a frantic search it is concluded that the daughter was never in the manifest, nor is there any sign of her ever being on board. While the plane's crew and passengers decide that Miss Foster is crazy, she holds onto hope with the assistance of airplane marshal Peter Sarsgaard and Captain Sean Bean - but even they are skeptical. Is she crazy or has someone kidnapped her daughter and hidden her where no one can find her? And if that is the case, why?
"Flightplan" has a good concept and for the most part is mildly thrilling and entertaining, but films like this always have problems. First off, you have two courses to go - you determine that your main character is crazy and that everything is in her head, which results in a pretty lame climax for a movie, or that she is indeed telling the truth, which means you have to revert from a possibly unique concept to standard thriller mode. I won't say which decision is made, but the move is probably a good one, even though things could have been done much better.
The main problem, though, is in the logic jumps that the film takes to get to the twist. If Foster's character is indeed telling the truth, then why would someone steal her child in a confined space? How does no one find her after they search the plane twice? If it's terrorists, what are their motives? If it's something else, how do they expect to get away with it? Things in the movie work out, but only in hindsight.
Another flaw with the film is the director's decision to design a brand new airplane. The movie could have been much more effective had it been set on a regular jetliner that audiences can really relate to - this new, never-designed plane allows characters to do things they normally couldn't do, and that audiences won't necessarily believe.
Despite its big holes, "Flightplan" is still a moderately enjoyable thriller that has its popcorn appeal. It never lives up to its potential and isn't nearly as smart as it clearly wants to be, but it is what it is and works as such. Recommended as a rental.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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