Setting an entire movie in a huis clos is a tour de force that can not always be successfully pulled off. In recent weeks, Red Eye attempted to take on the challenge, but was forced to move the action out of the plane and onto the ground in order to maintain the interest. Flightplan does not shy away from the challenge, taking it up from in this claustrophobic thriller that Hitchcock could easily have penned.
Still shaken by her husband’s recent passing, Kyle Pratt boards a plane form Berlin to New York with only one desire; bury her husband and start a new life with her six year old daughter. But, things do not go as smoothly as she wishes. At 35,000 feet, the young Julia Pratt vanishes. Not only is she nowhere to be found, but no passenger, nor crewmember have any recollection of seeing her board the plane. With Julia’s name absent from the passenger list, evidence starts piling up. Kyle must prove to the sceptical crewmembers, as well as herself, that she has not lost her mind.
Flightplan marks Jodie Foster’s return to the big screen. The actress has kept a low profile since 2002’s Panic Room. She delivers a performance that will live up to the expectations as a woman whose maternal instinct kicks into high gear as she is pushed to the edge of sanity. She stars opposite Peter Starsgaard and Erika Christensen. Apart from Foster, the entire cast delivers standard performances, failing set themseslves apart from the crowd.
Since the 9 /11 events, planes seem to trigger a whole lot of different emotions, the most obvious one being fear. In order not to produce something in bad taste, writers must come up with all kinds of different approaches to the touchy subject of fear of flying. Director Robert Schwentke pushes all the right buttons to create an intensely unnerving atmosphere.
However, this atmosphere soon wears off. As the movie progresses, the viewer becomes more and more aware of the limitations of the setting. After all, how much action can you pack into a plane, however big it is? Anguish soon turns into a growing feeling of uneasiness, mostly caused by the confinement to the plane. This might enhance the intensity for the most claustrophobic of us, but others will simply feel bored.
In spite of a slightly disappointing and oh so predictable ending, Foster saves the movie with her undeniable talent. Viewers will be somewhat entertained, but will not be shaken in any way, shape or form by what could – and should – have been the year’s most intense thriller.