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(Photo by Ron Batzdorf, SMSP. ©Touchstone Pictures, all rights reserved.)
LOOK AT MY DRAWING MOMMY!: Julia (Marlene Lawston, left) draws a design in the condensation on the window which will later help convince her mother Kyle (Jodie Foster) that she isn't losing her mind, and that her daughter is somewhere on the plane.nd caption.
Flightplan: Jodie Foster Back in Familiar Role as Frazzled Mom
Movie Review by Kam Williams
Three years ago, Jodie Foster delivered one of the most memorable performances of her career in the film Panic Room. She played a woman whose maternal instincts caused her to perform super-human feats in order to save her diabetic daughter from three intruders who broke into their New York brownstone. Directed by David Fincher, with an attention to detail reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, that taut, psychological thriller made this critic’s annual Ten Best List for 2002.
Ms. Foster now reprises that role in Flightplan, a variation on Panic Room’s theme. However, instead of her character moving into a new home in Manhattan, in Flightplan, she is recently widowed and flying back to New York from Germany. The story takes place inside a commercial jet airliner cruising at 37,000 feet. However, Flightplan fails to measure up to Panic Room's cinematic experience.
Panic had a riveting plot, palpable tension and a satisfying payoff; this movie is ruined by a Swiss cheese storyline, an absence of urgency, and a disappointing resolution riddled with red herrings. Despite the fact that Flightplan fails to measure up, Ms. Foster is able to elevate the mediocre material she had to work with to an acceptable level.
The story opens with Kyle Pratt (Foster) in Berlin, making arrangements to accompany her husband’s casket to the United States. An ominous soundtrack and shadowy figures hint that something sinister is in the air.
Kyle and her six year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston), board the plane. Soon after take-off, the exhausted mother falls asleep, leaving Julia to occupy herself. When she awakens, her little girl is gone. Kyle’s concern escalates when she doesn't find her after searching the aisles, seats, and bathrooms.
The mystery takes on an otherworldly cast when none of the crew or other passengers remembers ever even seeing Julie, whose name isn’t even on the list of passengers. What looked like a straightforward mystery becomes complicated by the question of whether this is a figment of Kyle’s imagination. Did Julia also perish in the accident which claimed the life of her father? Or is some diabolical scheme afoot to make her mom look like she’s lost her mind?
Kyle is a jet propulsion engineer and knows the blueprint of the aircraft like the back of her hand. This enables her to search remote regions of the plane while eluding an air marshal (Peter Sarsgaard), who is intent on handcuffing and sedating Kyle.
Despite a promising premise, Flightplan crash lands following a preposterous, almost comical, turn of events.
Good (2 stars). Rating: PG-13 for violence and tension. Running time: 93 minutes. Studio: Buena Vista Pictures.
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