Insane On The Airplane

Columbus Alive | September 22, 2005
Don’t expect to feel any safer flying post-9/11 after the new Jodie Foster thriller, in which flight crews are catty and uncaring, fistfights and chaos can break out at any moment and anyone with a little knowledge of the plane’s layout can access the wiring. But beyond the actual paranoia the set-up could inspire, don’t expect any real thrills, either.

As Kyle Pratt, a jet propulsion engineer traveling from Berlin to New York with her daughter Julia and her dead husband’s body in tow, Foster embodies from the outset a sense of loss and confusion that’s almost enough to carry the lifeless, formulaic film that surrounds her. Falling asleep after takeoff, Kyle wakes up to discover Julia missing. No one on board has seen her, nor do they remember the little girl boarding the plane.

After a search involving a lot of opening and slamming of lavatory and overhead cabin doors, the flight crew informs Kyle that her daughter’s name is not on the passenger manifest, and Peter Sarsgaard’s air marshal takes custody of her. Is Kyle delusional, or is there something more sinister afoot?

Tension may build in the cabin, but it’s missing in the theater. Though screenwriters Billy Ray and Peter A. Dowling do give implausibility free reign, Flightplan sticks so closely to thriller conventions, you just know it’s going to play safe throughout. Despite a reasonably short running time, the wait for the big finale feels as long as a three-hour layover in Newark.

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