If you somehow have an irrational fear of airplanes, not flying, but the vessel that carries you over both land and oceans, then Flightplan is not the film for you. The film takes you through the inner workings of the airplane that the majority of the film takes place. Almost every inch it is explored in one way or another. This is the film for you if you have some desire to design airplanes for a living, or just have some fascination with them, but never got to take a tour of one yourself.
Our protagonist is Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster), who designs airplanes. She worked on the engines of the one that she and her daughter (Marlene Lawston) are about to board. Once aboard, the two decide to move to an empty row and take a nap. Kyle wakes up 3 hours later and finds her daughter missing. She quickly begins searching the plane, at first calmly, but soon becomes frantic in her search. The flight crew helps all they can, with the captain (Sean Bean) telling everyone what to do. The thing is, nobody has seen her daughter. The passengers and crew are all flabbergasted by the disappearance, and it appears like the girl was never on-board at all. Is Kyle crazy? Did she even bring her daughter on the flight?
There are a few more twists in the plot along the way, but they are things that you want to be surprised from. Therefore, they will not be spoiled or even hinted at, if for no other reason than so that you will not begin wondering what is wrong with the plot until after they occur. My primary concern with the plot is how silly it becomes after the final twist occurs. Up until that point, the film is suspenseful and entertaining. After the fact, it feels kind of weird.
What is difficult to do, however, is to figure out a better way to end it. Without that final plot twist, the film would have felt cheap, never amounting to anything substantial. Maybe it would have been a better film overall, but it might have been more of a let-down, considering it could have ended nearly 30 minutes earlier. I’m just not quite sure on this one. The ending didn’t seem to fit the tone of the rest of the film all that well, but I also don’t see a better way of doing it. It might be that Flightplan just isn’t deserving of being a feature-length film. Maybe, if it didn’t have to be over 80 minutes long, it could have been great, as it would have had been able to brush aside the final twist, or leave the film with a certain amount of ambiguity.
Flightplan ultimately disappointed me.
There is actually a fair bit of ambiguity early on in the film, which is partly why the ending didn’t quite fit. This is brought across well by a strong lead performance by Jodie Foster. She’s intelligent and a strong character, even though the film plays around with the state of mind Kyle is in, she continues to be the kind of character that she needs to be. She even seems to be ahead of the audience at certain points of the film. Sean Bean also manages to make an impression, playing the captain. His character is forced to do things he doesn’t want to, and he manages to show this, despite not showing all that much emotion. The weakest actor here is Peter Sarsgaard, an air marshal who is forced to accompany Kyle on her search of the plane. He seems to be phoning in his role, never showing us that he cares about this project.
The main problem that the film has is that it just seems to go on for far too long. The final twist serves only to extend the film an additional half hour, and it actually makes the film less entertaining. The first 45 minutes or so were quite well done, and if the film had kept that level of energy and excitement for the rest of the film, it would have been quite good. It didn’t though, and it makes Flightplan worse as a result. The ending really left me with a disdain for the film, something I was hoping it wouldn’t do.
Flightplan ultimately disappointed me. I was hoping it would be good, and at first, it was. It was entertaining and actually fairly tense. A couple of twists later and it had taken that good feeling I had and replaced it with one of boredom. The acting ends up being the best part, with Jodie Foster and Sean Bean both giving great performances. The film just ends up overstaying its welcome, and likely would have been better if it didn’t have to go on for over 80 minutes. It’s not a terrible film, and it does have some good parts, but it just doesn’t work entirely.
Conclusion: Flightplan is too twisty and silly for its own good.
Recommendation: It isn’t terrible, but there are better movies to watch than Flightplan.