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Flightplan - Review

Jodie Foster in Flightplan

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

JODIE Foster’s last big Hollywood film, Panic Room, focused on a mother’s desperate attempts to protect herself and her daughter from invaders while being trapped within a claustrophobic environment.

Her comeback somewhat disappointingly finds her facing a similar predicament, albeit with higher stakes.

She plays recently widowed Kyle Pratt who is forced to escort her late husband’s body from Berlin to New York with her young daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston), on the super-plane she helped design.

After a short mid-flight nap, however, Kyle awakes to discover that her daughter is missing and frantically begins to search the crowded plane, enlisting the help of the sceptical pilot (Sean Bean), his crew and a sympathetic air marshall (Peter Sarsgaard).

But as Kyle gets increasingly more desperate, she is alarmed to discover that no one on board the plane recalls seeing her daughter and that the ‘flightplan’ never had her listed as a passenger.

The ensuing thriller, directed by Robert Schwentke, takes much of its inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 thriller, The Lady Vanishes, but seeks to embellish it by tossing in the very contemporary element of terrorism.

Hence, Foster’s central character eventually poses a possible terrorist threat, while the inclusion of a trio of Middle Eastern passengers raises the stakes still higher.

Did Julia see something she wasn’t supposed to? Has she been kidnapped? Or is Kyle, in fact, suffering from acute depression and did she ever have her daughter with her in the first place?

Much of the fun in watching Flightplan unfold comes from Foster’s expert turn as Kyle, who mixes paranoia with desperation, frustration with anger, to create a totally absorbing presence.

When left in Foster’s hands Schwentke’s film retains an element of believability and is fairly engrossing in a Friday night popcorn sort of way.

But much of the support cast is wasted, with Bean providing solid if unspectacular support and Sarsgaard completely wasted in a thankless role.

Once the inevitable twist kicks in, however, and events become dictated by the need for a set piece conclusion, credibility flies completely out of the window and characters start conforming to stereotype.

The film loses all grip on reality and, as such, on its audience, who may find themselves groaning with disappointment at the way things play out.

Consquently, the good work done by Foster seems academic, serving to create an experience that promises more than it ultimately delivers.

It plays well on post 9/11 fears but lacks the courage to really stand out and be different, employing a first class cast to deliver economy style thrills. Brace yourself for a disappointing landing.