‘Flightplan’ Stays On Course

There is one thing I learned from Imagine Entertainment’s “Flightplan” – don’t mess with Jodie Foster.

“Flightplan” is the first major motion picture from German director Robert Schwentke, and he tackles the incredibly tricky task of staging a full-scale, action-packed thriller in the confining space of an airliner. However, the featured aircraft is a “2474,” complete with two passenger decks, numerous restrooms and even a full service bar, giving the director plenty of room to stage the action.

The plot focuses on Kyle Pratt (Foster), and her 6 year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston in her film debut.) We learn immediately that Kyle’s husband has recently committed suicide near their home in Berlin. Kyle now must face the tragic journey to the United States for his burial, with her rather traumatized daughter in tow.

As they board the massive jet liner, Schwentke introduces a wide variety of supporting characters: Captain Rich (Sean Bean), Air Marshall Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard, familiar from his role in “Garden State”) and Erika Christensen as one of the flight attendants. Finally, no modern airline thriller would be complete without four suspicious Middle Eastern-looking men huddled near the front of the plane, ready to further complicate a tense situation. The action begins as Kyle wakes up to find Julia missing, and no one seems to remember seeing her on board. As details about her current mental state emerge, the already cynical flight crew becomes even less helpful, leaving Kyle to fend for herself.

At times Jodie Foster’s acting seems over the top, but in contrast with the muted performances given by Sarsgaard, and Bean everything ultimately evens out. “Flightplan” is a typical thriller: the writer sets you up with a generic plot, only to rip the rug out from under you during the thrilling, yet unrealistic climax. This movie has many great aspects: the acting and the many plot twists almost detract from its unbelievable final plot twist. Fans of psychological thrillers such as “Dark Water,” and “Hide and Seek,” should find this movie an enjoyable escape this weekend.

“Flightplan,” hits theaters around the country on Sept. 23.

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