Publicity Stills of "Flight Plan"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen and Sean Bean
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 20 October 2005

Synopsis :

Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13") teams up with two-time Academy Awardâ-winning actress Jodie Foster ("Silence of the Lambs," "The Accused") in the taut psychological thriller, FLIGHTPLAN, directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Peter Dowling and Billy Ray. Flying at 40,000 feet in a cavernous, state-of-the-art 474 aircraft, Kyle Pratt (FOSTER) faces every mother's worst nightmare when her six year-old daughter, Julia, vanishes without a trace mid-flight from Berlin to New York. Already emotionally devastated by the unexpected death of her husband, Kyle desperately struggles to prove her sanity to the disbelieving flight crew and passengers while facing the very real possibility
that she may be losing her mind. While neither Captain Rich (SEAN BEAN), nor Air Marshal Gene Carson (PETER SARSGAARD) want to doubt the bereaved widow, all evidence indicates that her daughter was never on board resulting in paranoia and doubt among the passengers and crew of the plane. Finding herself desperately alone, Kyle can only rely on her own wits to solve the mystery and save her daughter.

Movie Review:

It is inevitable that one thinks of this movie as highly unoriginal. First, one may compare this suspense drama to Wes Craven’s Red Eye, which was released in cinemas here a month ago. Both are in-flight psychological thrillers, and both boast of strong-headed female protagonists. Second, with its plot and Jodie Foster as its lead, one may conveniently deem it as a rehash of David Fincher’s Panic Room (2002), except that the setting has been changed to a plane. But if you put these factors aside, you will still find yourself enjoying this decent thriller at the edge of your seat.

The movie reminds us how difficult it is to be a sane woman these days. An aircraft engineer, whose husband died recently, is escorting his body back home. Her only company on flight is her daughter. All hell breaks loose when the young girl goes missing. She finds herself at odds with an unremitting flight crew, where she must challenge her own sanity and come face to face with her fears.

Running at 99 minutes, the movie wastes no time jumping into the action and suspense. With its brisk and no-frills pacing, there is never a dull moment in the movie. By the time the passengers in the movie have taken their seats comfortably, you would also have settled down in your own cinema seat. From that moment on, the movie takes flight.

Foster gets to run a lot, exhibiting her character’s frustration, fear and desperation. The intensity in her role is definitely one thing to look out for. Amidst all the excitement, there are also tender and quiet moments where she gets to exercise her acting chops as a heartfelt mother. No wonder this talented actress is a two-time Oscar winner.

The rest of the supporting cast delivers strong acting as well. Peter Sarsgaard is definitely one underrated actor in our time. The weariness and soulfulness in his eyes are enough to tell so much without having him to say anything. After his powerful performances in Shattered Glass (2003) and Kinsey (2004), Sarsgaard’s role as an air marshal in this movie makes him one actor to look out for. Rounding up the cast is Sean Bean (Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) as the plane captain and Erika Christensen (the obsessive girl in Swim fan) as a fight attendant.

Another commendable aspect of the movie is its production design. The sets are so well built that you can feel the claustrophobic anxiety of the plane pressing down on you. There are also a few innovative shots which creatively use mirrors, reflections and transitions to very good effect.

The cinematography is also impressive as it effectively brings out the coldness on the plane with its use of cool colours. Throughout the movie, you can also hear suspicious murmurs and unkind whispers from the passengers, which will have you thinking that you are actually on board the plane experiencing this awkwardly uncomfortable episode.

Relatively new to Hollywood, German-born director Robert Schwentke shows what he has got by attempting to create the post 9/11 atmosphere on a plane, with undercover air marshals to white-collared Americans casting caution on Middle Eastern passengers. Although these notions are never fully developed, they are commendable efforts made by the director.

With such a dependable fine cast and high production values, some load is taken off the credibility and believability of the movie’s plot. Since there is an excellent buildup in the first two-thirds of the movie, most audience will be expecting a reasonable payoff to justify that escalation of tension. But when the plot twist kicks in, the stake has been raised so high that the outcome may not be enough satisfy many viewers.

But hey, it is Hollywood we are talking about here after all, isn’t the most crucial objective to entertain? This movie has done just that.

Movie Rating:

(A sleek and tight thriller boasting fine and intense performances from its cast)

Review by John Li

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