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Flightplan (September 22/05)

It's generally impossible to go wrong with a thriller set aboard an airplane - ie Passenger 57, Executive Decision, and the recent Red Eye - and Flightplan is certainly no exception. Though the film's third act is almost unreasonably ludicrous, there's no doubt that Flightplan works as an exercise in pure entertainment.

The story revolves around Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster), a recently-widowed propulsion engineer who is shocked to discover that her daughter (played by Marlene Lawston) has disappeared during a routine flight over the Atlantic. Worse still, nobody - including the plane's impatient captain (Sean Bean) and a relatively sympathetic air marshall (Peter Sarsgaard) - remembers seeing the little girl aboard, though Kyle remains convinced that something sinister is afoot.

There's nothing terribly original or innovative about Flightplan, and yet the film remains engaging throughout - even through some of the more absurd portions - thanks primarily to Robert Schwentke's sleek direction and the uniformly excellent performances. In terms of the latter, Foster is effective as ever here - though she's frequently overshadowed by Bean and Sarsgaard (both of whom are expectedly charismatic and intriguing, with Bean especially convincing as a stern captain).

Schwentke does a nice job of imbuing the film with an intriguing sense of style that never becomes distracting, and while he's not even remotely at the same level as someone like David Fincher, Schwentke is surely a filmmaker to watch in the future. It's interesting to note that Foster's last starring role was in Fincher's Panic Room, as the two are - thematically - awfully similar (instead of being trapped in a tiny room, Foster's character is trapped on an airplane). The comparisons end there, of course, since Panic Room remains one of the best examples of the genre to crop up in recent years - while Flightplan is essentially disposable entertainment, forgotten almost immediately upon one's exit from the theater.

out of

About the DVD: Flightplan arrives on DVD courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, armed with a flawless widescreen transfer and several bonus features (including an informative commentary track with director Robert Schwentke, two extensive featurettes, and several trailers).