U.S. Release Date: September 23, 2005
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Billy Ray
Producer: Brian Grazer
Composer: James Horner
Cast: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Erika Christensen
Running Time: 1 hour and 33 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (violence and some intense plot material)

Jodie Foster Airplane Thriller is Preposterous
by Scott Holleran

The upshot of Jodie Foster's newest damsel-in-distress thriller, Flightplan, is that virtually nothing about it works—not the damsel, not the distress, not the thrills. It's a fully loaded vehicle for Miss Foster that quickly runs out of steam.

After a weird setup involving dark, European locales, mysterious strangers—whose presence is never explained—and a husband who has apparently committed suicide, Panic Room on an airplane gets underway with mother (Miss Foster) and daughter (Marlene Lawston) boarding with Daddy's casket on a brand-new double decker Airbus jet bound for the United States.

The whole thing is so ridiculous it defies description: Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey) plays an air marshal who sits near mom and kid—who have boarded before everyone else so no one sees the kid before she supposedly disappears—and Sean Bean (National Treasure) plays the flight's irritable captain. Other characters include an assortment of stewardesses, a couple of kids and a quartet of suspicious Arab passengers.

For starters, Miss Foster is uninvolving either as a mother or as an aircraft designer, and her real or imaginary kid is too creepy to care about. These two have as much chemistry as a park bench and a lamppost, and Miss Foster strangely impersonates someone with the mental stability of a cuckoo bird, inexplicably speaking in a low, husky whisper—for the entire movie. But Miss Foster and her Sixth Sense-ish kid are not alone on this flight from hell. Sarsgaard sleepwalks as the world's most incompetent security guard, and practically everyone on board is so annoying it almost makes you want to pull the exit door latch with the seat belts unfastened.

After Miss Foster does or does not lose her zombie-like child, she becomes variously convinced that there's a conspiracy to hijack the plane using her daughter, that the flight crew is concealing information, and that her kid is locked inside Daddy's coffin. In the process, she loses credibility, and the movie loses tension. The writers forget to make us care whether the plane lands safely, let alone whether she finds the kid if there is one to find. Flightplan exists strictly to present Miss Foster as a victim.

Each plot development is part of a predictable formula that finds Miss Foster preposterously running around the Airbus—and this movie is practically an ad for that government-subsidized concern—with poor Sarsgaard chasing after her and with a band of pouty flight attendants, including wasted Erika Christensen (The Upside of Anger), acting like they're stuck on a layover in Timbuktu.

When the real deal is revealed, it's patently absurd. Discarding characters, turning Sarsgaard's air marshal into cardboard and resorting to politically correct plot points, Flightplan descends from departure and takes a nosedive in the last act.

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