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*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
This must be close to the plot synopsis:
Man: "You know we're always saying we could use 50 million dollars?
Man: "Well I have a cunning plan."
Woman: "What's that then?"
Man: "First of all we need to find an aeronautics engineer working in a foreign country, with a child, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the layout of a particular long-haul plane."
Woman: "Why's that?"
Man: "Well then, you see, we murder her spouse, in such a way as it looks like an accident."
Woman: "What for?"
Man (exasperated): "Well then of course, we bribe the mortuary assistant at the hospital into letting us place explosives inside the casket."
Woman: "But why?"
Man: "I'm coming to that. Then we wait until the woman decides to return the the U.S."
Woman: "But what if she doesn't?"
Man: "She just will, okay? So anyway, when she decides to return home we find out what flight she's on. Hopefully she is not only placed on the type of plane of which she has encyclopedic knowledge, and flying with the airline of which you're a flight attendant, but also on the same flight as her dead husband's casket. Are you following?"
Woman: "I think so."
Man:"Good, we're nearly there. Then all we need to do is falsify the checking-in information to remove all record of her daughter, make sure she gets on the plane half an hour before everybody else, ensure there is a row of empty seats behind her and get me on the flight, sitting nearby."
Woman: "And then?"
Man (laughing): "Now this the cunning part. She takes the empty seats, allowing her daughter to sit in the aisle seat, then when she goes to sleep, all I have to do is steal a food trolley, stuff the daughter into it and hide her in the hold. Oh, and did I mention that we must ensure that nobody on the entire plane sees the daughter?"
Woman: "Isn't this getting a little far fetched?"
Man (angry): "What do'you mean? It's a great plan? All I have to do then is remove the child's boarding pass from wherever the mother is keeping it without waking her, assist her search for the missing child in the guise of an Air Marshal, convince the captain that the woman is mad and that the child died with her father (through a forged note from the mortician), and wait for the mother to escape from my custody.
Man: "Because the casket can only be unlocked by her, so once she's unlocked it I can set the timer on the explosives. From there we're home and dry. I merely have to recapture her, convince the captain that she's actually not mad but a hijacker who wants 50 million dollars and give the Captain our account number, asking him to ensure the money is paid straight in. Oh, Then we land, everybody gets off the plane, I shoot the mother and blow up the daughter and nobody is any the wiser. We walk away with a cool 50 million. Simple eh?"
Never before have I wasted two hours of my life on quite such egregious nonsense.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flightplan is a psychological thriller that takes place almost entirely
on an air-born jumbo jet en route to New York, from Berlin. Jodie
Foster plays Kyle, a mother who find that her daughter is missing after
awaking from a nap. The jet also carries Kyle's husband, who recently
died and rests in his casket in the cargo hold below. Kyle becomes
increasingly frantic as she searches the plane for her daughter without
success. The crew becomes adversarial, writing her off as a loony when
they check the flight manifesto and find no record of her daughter ever
being on board. Thus enters the psychological component of the film.
Not only is the audience confused as to what has happened, but Kyle,
after speaking with an on-board psychiatrist, also begins to have
doubts about her own psychological stability in the wake of her
husband's death. No one is sure what to believe, until a subtle clue
jolts Foster back to reality, and back to her MacGuyver like maneuvers
to attempt to recover her lost daughter.
It's an interesting premise, and oddly similar to Foster's previous film, Panic Room, in which her maternal character is forced into a confined space with no outlet. In keeping with most of Foster's performances, she plays a strong-willed, intelligent woman who overcomes difficult circumstances. As expected, Foster delivers, and pulls the audience into the story. I was disappointed, however. Foster has more to offer than Flightplan is capable of giving her. Flightplan, while entertaining, remains among those psychological-thrill-rides that are only as successful as their audience is unsuccessful in knowing the truth during the course of the film. To achieve this, the film has to throw a slew of false leads and suspicious looking characters into early shots in order to have the audience questioning.
I'm not fond of this technique. It's possible to keep the audience in suspense, and guessing without trickery. To me, this degrades the integrity of a storyline.
I was pulled in by the impressive marketing campaign of Flightplan and went to theaters excited. The film lived up to the aesthetic advertised -- a slick blue hue that reminds the audience of the snowfall in Berlin, the death of a husband and father, and the unfortunate and unforgiving circumstances that have befallen Kyle and her young daughter. And while this makes for a very sleek looking film, in the end, the fantastical, convoluted storyline cannot be realistically reconciled. I left the theater feeling somewhat cheated. While I realize it was a story and therefore ought to be granted a liberal amount of leniency when it comes to plausibility, Flightplan went to far outside the realm of conceivability. There were too many factors that had to conspire in favor of one person for the films storyline to hold together.
The real problem with Flightplan is that the more you think back, the more you become frustrated with how inconceivable the whole charade was; the more you become irritated with how often you were lead to wonder about something eventually irrelevant. There are some films that don't give you all the answers and pull you along on a suspenseful ride, and leave you feeling fulfilled when you finally figure everything out, and everything fits together. Flightplan concludes, you know the culprit, and then you think back, and nothing fits together.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think we have some sort of record. The steps needed for the criminals
in this movie to succeed are:
1) Jodie deciding to go to the states on the same airplane as her dead husbands coffin. 2) An accomplice at the check-in who deletes any record of the daughters ticket. 3) that jodie chooses to be the first onboard - otherwise some of the other families with children might notice the child when she boards. 4) That the flight attendant doesn't notice the child when they board. 5) That the child stays hidden for three hours of flight. 6) That Jodie decides to sleep in the back of the plane with her child, so the kidnappers can whisk her away in the troll. Had Jodie and the child stayed in their seats, the kidnapping would have been impossible.
Improbable as this seems, the plot holes's just getting started. Now we need Jodie not just going amok, but escaping to do another feat: Remember how an airport security guy, at the beginning of the movie, tells Jodie she needs to lock the casket (with a code) for security reasons? (apparently, in this alternate reality, any coffin can get by airport security because 'coffins aren't x-rayed'). It seems the criminal actually needs to get hold of and move the explosives hidden in the coffin so he can blow up the child in the front of the plane (to cover the fact that she was onboard, i guess). So now the scheme of the criminals hinges on: 1) Jodie goes to the bathroom, crawls up a trap door, shortcircuits the lights, uses the confusion to get to the basement, opens the coffin, keeps the lid up and lets her self be caught.
I didn't understand this at first, thinking that the writers couldn't be that idiotic, but why else set up the idea of a digitally locked casket? She, it seems, has to open it! And when this setup is complete, the criminal only has to convince the captain that this crazy mother is a terrorist whos suddenly gotten hold of a detonator for a bomb.
I think the writing is, in many ways, intriguing. I fail to remember any movie with a plot quite so convoluted. Please respond if you can think of any.
Yours truly, Lars
You know how angry, frustrated and anxious you get when an airline
loses your luggage? Well, imagine being on a plane with your child when
you awaken from a brief nap only to discover that your offspring is
To compound matters further, imagine that no one remembers seeing your child on board and all passenger lists and appropriate documentation lead to a conclusion that your child never set foot in the flying tube 30,000 feet above the Atlantic.
That is the premise behind the new Jodie Foster (Nell) film Flightplan that delivers just enough thrills and spills to squeeze out a three star rating from his critic.
Reprising the claustrophobic atmosphere of her last starring vehicle, Panic Room, Foster stars as Kyle, as recent widower that decides to take her 6-year-old daughter back to America from Berlin to escape the memories surrounding her husbands tragic suicide.
However, after catching a little shuteye at the back of the plane, Kyle awakens to discover that her daughter is missing and that no one recalls ever seeing young Julia on board.
Is she crazy? Is it a conspiracy? Does Julia exist or is this all some kind of a bad dream Twilight Zone episode that will end with Patrick Duffy lathering up in a shower? The game, as we say, is afoot and Kyle, under the very watchful eye of Air Marshall Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) runs up and down the AIR E-474 jumbo jet in a frantic attempt to try and convince others that her daughter is on board and that conspirators are attempting to conceal her whereabouts for reasons unknown.
This is the second thriller set aboard a jetliner in just two months the other being Red Eye and Flightplan does just as good a job of instilling fear and tension aboard a vessel where mobility, options and hiding places are limited between the nose and tail of the aircraft. Flightplan does find a way to up the ante by putting us aboard a monstrous flying machine. This AALTO Air E-474 can seat as many as 800 passengers and has two stories, 7 galleys, crew quarters and a cockpit larger than my apartment. This allows the characters therefore to run up and down aisles and makes the disappearance of a small girl more believable due to the many small rooms and electrical hardware gadgetry spread out throughout the quarters.
Flightplan had just enough good points to out number the bad but not by much. First and foremost at the front of the line was the incredible performance of Foster in the lead role. Channeling emotions evoked if she had lost her own daughter, Foster delivers a knockout performance that was as strong as any female lead in a thriller film since Sigourney Weaver strapped on the weaponry and stood up to the queen alien.
Also notable was the support staff that is each believable in their respective roles. Peter Sarsgaard continues to put in one good performance after another and everyone from Sean Bean (who finally, FINALLY makes it to the end credits of a film without being killed!) to Erika Christensen (Traffic) are provided just enough screen time to advance the story without having anyone go over the top in an attempt to steal the spotlight.
That's the good. The bad includes a bad guy who has what I call the Bond-villain syndrome whereas he feels he has to talk out loud revealing more than anyone in the same situation would for the purposes of ensuring us dumb audiences know the who's how's and what's behind the plot, and an ending that is kinda bumpy landing after such a long flight.
However, director Robert Schwentke does a good job of rising above most of the screenplay's shortfalls and delivers a Hitchcockian caper that is well worth the price of admission even if you will hardly remember most of the plot points by the time you see it on the DVD shelves early next year.
Just when we thought we had enough suspense this year with the airline
thriller Red Eye, along comes another that brings some heavy
competition. Hitchcock fans will be delighted to know that German
director Robert Schwentke has made a movie with a story just about as
good as some of Hitchcock's - one that keeps them on the edge of their
seats, and seems to keep the guessing game going until the end.
Jodie Foster (Panic Room) plays Kyle Pratt, an airplane designer whose husband apparently fell off their roof and died recently. She and her daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston), are relocating from Germany to New York City, having to transport her deceased husband with them on board a massive double-decker airplane she designed. Kyle has been having a few delusions of her husband still being alive, but she always comes to her senses and realizes that he's not. But when she falls asleep during the flight and wakes up to find her daughter missing, she becomes alarmed and proceeds to look for Julia.
How many places could she be, right? That's the question everyone on board is asking. But when the Captain (Sean Bean) finds out that no one saw Kyle's daughter on board, that she's been through a lot of stress, and her daughter's boarding pass cannot be accounted for - he starts to think Kyle is mentally disturbed. As the flight goes on, he is informed that Julia apparently died along with Kyle's husband - pointing to what looks like a troubled marriage and a suicidal husband taking their daughter with him off the roof. Is Kyle imagining her daughter is still alive too? The entire crew and all the passengers seem to think so, particularly one man named Carson (Peter Sarsgaard, The Skeleton Key), who proceeds to ask all the hard questions that she doesn't want to hear.
Even though 99% of the movie takes place on board an airplane, the film never ceases to entertain. Foster gives us a riveting performance, making sure we can see the passionate look in her eyes that she is absolutely convinced her daughter is alive and that she's willing to go to great lengths to find her. She tackles an Arab man, breaks airline rules, enters restricted areas, etc. She drools, she claws...well not really. But she's definitely one mother you don't want to mess with.
This film does a good job at depicting the post 9/11 atmosphere one gets when riding an airplane, everything from undercover air marshals to passengers being wary of Arabs. It also reminds us of how annoying airplane flights can be, with hyperactive kids acting up right in front of you, or snobby passengers who say things like, "It's not like she lost her Palm Pilot." By the middle of the film, most of the passengers are just as patronizing, as they clap when Kyle is escorted back to her seat after causing a stir.
It has its share of unique cinematography, with obscure camera angles (like a sideways shot beneath an airplane landing), but other seemingly pointless slow-motion shots that don't add much to the scene. But most of that doesn't really take away from the story and the wonderful performances the actors give.
The movie does raise a few unanswered questions (ones I can't ask here without spoiling the plot), but they're easily forgivable. Is the film really that good? Well, it depends on how one views it. If one is expecting an original story, he/she will likely come out disappointed. However, it remains enjoyable if one just sees it simply as a story that, while not original, is a story well-told.
Dan Geer MovieLegacy.com
The number one rule in making a thriller is, if you're ripping off
Hitchcock, make sure you do it right! The movie's plot is very simply
Hitchcockian -- a woman, Jodie Foster, loses her little girl aboard an
international flight several thousands of feet in the air, and nobody
on board remembers seeing the little girl at all, much less her
disappearance. The movie's full of simple plot elements: a desperate
mother, the claustrophobic atmosphere of the plane and the helpless
skepticism of the airline personnel. The problem is the plot ultimately
makes no internal sense, and the underlying emotional issues, while
beautifully played by the talented Ms. Foster, are idiotic as well. All
movies like this are manipulative by nature, but the really good ones
hide the strings (Hitchcock was a Master of this art) while the bad
ones, like Flightplan, display their flaws so obviously you find
yourself sitting in the theater snorting at the improbability of what's
happening. The big twist that's supposed to shock doesn't make sense,
supposedly intelligent characters act extremely stupidly and the
emotional manipulation is ham-handed and ineffective.
So -- what did this movie do right? The performances are uniformly decent, though not in themselves interesting enough to save the movie. And the director keeps the movie from utter pointlessness by keeping the movie visually interesting. The movie's color palette is blue and grays, and the airplane is full of sleek curves and surfaces. The camera does all sorts of tricks, like filming a conversation from the outside of the windows, but which ultimately does nothing for the story or the movie overall.
I didn't hate this movie, mostly I was dismissive of it. Nothing engaged me, or interested me, and the ending made me roll my eyes. It's true: a bad script kills a film every time.
"Flightplan" seems to have affected IMDb contributors like no other
film in recent memory. Mostly is bad. We didn't catch up with this
picture until recently. Frankly, we are puzzled as to why the hatred.
Granted, the film had the potential for being better, but it's not the
total failure as some of the comments in this forum will make one
believe. It appears there's an agenda to mark "Flightplan" comments as
Director Robert Schwentke working with Peter Dowling and Billy Ray's screen play, hasn't added much to the film in order to make it a thriller to be reckoned with, but, in general, the film is not a total waste, as seems to be the perception among contributors.
In a way, "Flightplan" plays with the viewer's perception as to who is behind the disappearance of Julia, the six year old girl traveling with her mother, Kyle, to New York. Kyle has suffered a great tragedy in her life when her husband was found dead in her building's courtyard. The fact that Kyle hasn't been able to accept the death is clear in the first sequence when we see her sitting inside the Alexanderplaz metro station in Berlin.
Kyle, an aircraft designing engineer, is a good mother. One can imagine her panic when she wakes up from a nap to find Julia's gone. No one seems to have noticed the little girl; there is no record of she ever been on board. Kyle meets resistance from the crew of the flight. Even the sky marshal, Carson, is no help at all. What's a mother to do? If one is in Kyle's shoes, one starts taking matter into her own hands.
Jodie Foster does a good job portraying Kyle. She is a mother who doesn't take no for an answer. In fact, she is the one that unravels the mystery surrounding her daughter's disappearance. The climax sequence is perfectly set, as one would expect it to be.
Peter Sarsgaard, is Carson, the sky marshal traveling in the economy section. He is in charge of the safety of the passengers on the flight. In an unusual role for him, Mr. Sarsgaard has some good chances in the movie. Sean Bean plays the pilot of the jumbo jet. Kate Beahan is seen as one of the flight attendants. Erika Christiensen is also part of the crew.
The best way to enjoy the film is not to compare it to anything else and just go for the entertaining value in it because we know this is not a ground breaking film, but thanks to Mr. Schwentke and his cast, it offers us a bumpy ride of a film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rarely have I been so annoyed by a film. Perhaps this is because
"Flightplan" starts off with such promise before descending (ha ha)
into a laughably ridiculous, clichéd, and downright boring final third.
The movie develops as a fascinating and emotionally gripping story of a
delusional woman who is convinced her dead daughter accompanied her on
board as has been kidnapped.
**SPOILERS** ... but surprise! She is, in fact, correct! Coincidentally, none of the 500 passengers saw the girl or witnessed her kidnapping. Coincidentally, the air marshal and a flight attendant are in cahoots to orchestrate a hijacking threat, demand a $50 million ransom, and attempt to pin the entire thing (including the on-board ransom demand) on a woman who has no idea what is going on. Right.
What surprises me is how far off base Roger Ebert's review was of this film. He writes, "Often in thrillers we think of obvious questions that the characters should be asking, but do not, because then the problems would be solved and the movie would be over." That's right, and "Flightplan" is a textbook example. Jodie Foster's character figures out the entire conspiracy, gains control of the situation, is able to take the hijacker's gun ... and then gives the gun to the captain, has him leave the plane, and seals all the exits so as to be alone with her (surprise!) still-armed foe. Sure, this allows for yet another limping-attacker-slowly-chasing-resourceful-woman climax, but the repeated blatant assaults on the audience's common sense and credulity are simply too much to take.
"Flightplan" seemed promising as it slowly established the impossibility of the actual explanation it provides. There is the possibility of a good movie in there, but as it stands, "Flightplan" is an enormous cheat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
****SPOILER ALERT**** Don't read any further if you want to see the
movie without knowing too much.
Turn off your reasoning faculties at the ticket counter.
Jodie Foster is an aeronautical engineer based in Berlin. She lives there with her husband and daughter, and when he dies from an apparent suicide leap from the roof of their apartment house, she is left to bring his body back to the US, accompanied by their daughter. The build up of suspense is quite good at the beginning of the film, the airline delay, having the horrible experience that she may have lost the daughter in the airport, boarding, then the de-icing of the plane, all little touches to get the viewer on edge. Once they're airborne, they switch seats to get a row to themselves and sleep. Waking up three hours later, Jodie finds her daughter missing. Ever more frantic, she searches the plane, finally getting the captain involved, but things start to come a little undone for her when the crew tell her there's no record of her daughter on the manifest. It's let out that her husband has recently died, she's on anti-depressants, and possibly she's imagining the whole thing about being with her daughter. I won't tell any more, but the spoilers are many: As someone else said, why was the girl allowed on a plane without a boarding pass going through the machine for the passenger manifest? Why steal the girl in the first place? What was the point? How did they reach into Foster's pocket and steal the daughter's boarding pass without her waking up? Why have real explosive involved anyway, if the intent was merely extortion, fake stuff would have done the job just as well. Was the air-marshall real or was he a fake, if fake, how did he get credentials that fooled the airline? Are we seriously to believe that they'd kill Foster's husband just so they could plant explosives in his casket? And if they did, why choose an aeronautical engineer's spouse - someone who knows the plane inside out - why not choose Janet Schmo and her husband Joe?
I came out of the movie calling "bullshit".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was terrible, just terrible. It was almost like it didn't
have writers. As if no one even checked the script for what year it
was, or if their any of the characters had a personality or even names.
The credits list first names to the characters but the movie didn't use
them. It was like nobody even bothered to develop this film past the
very early stages of script construction, and yet the film somehow got
through all the stages of film production and distribution.
All the "best" lines are spoken off screen by random extras that only exist in ADR. Some zingers come from any number of stereotypical angry passengers who portray a particular class or race. My favorite was a man in first class who says about a woman looking for her daughter: "It's not like she lost her palm pilot." PALM PILOT! What year is it? Who wrote that at the turn of the century and then kept it for safekeeping until 2005. As if the main characters weren't shallow and underdeveloped enough, the filmmakers decided to add some 2D extras just in case. Don't even get me started on the Arabs or the guy with the mustache.
Seriously, do we need someone to bring up racial profiling in such a surface level way. A film that almost has to tackle our racial stereotypes about terrorism skirts over this pitfall by eliminating terrorism at all. White people can hijack a plane (spoiler, oh by the by, the plane is basically hijacked, spoiler) but then it's white-collar crime not an act of terrorism. Every race has its flaw.
Just an awful film. How anyone talked Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, or even Sean Bean into this plane wreck is beyond my comprehension.
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