Flightplan (2005)
Something watchable in the air, though not special.
20 December 2005
The shortlived British magazine "Cult TV" once claimed "Newhart" was an American copy of "Fawlty Towers," even though apart from both being set in small hotels the two are about as similar as night and day. Similarly "Flightplan," to its credit, is in no way a Xerox of "Red Eye" - both involve women in peril on a plane, but they both have different plot lines and twists. Also, "Flightplan" takes itself more seriously than "Red Eye"... but despite carrying more baggage on its flight, ultimately the latter is the better movie.

For the first two acts, director Robert Schwentke and writers Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray concentrate more on tension and character, focusing on the unravelling of Jodie Foster's character, quarrelling with the crew and passengers and building up an effective sense of paranoia. Her acting may be a bit on the edge of hamminess sometimes, but then again how far is too far in a situation like this? As a psychological thriller, "Flightplan" comes across just fine, even if it does chuck in some red herrings along the way (9/11 trappings notwithstanding).

Unfortunately the biggest red herring of all turns out to be the storyline, as it takes a sharp left turn into "Die Hard" territory (or should that be "Passenger 57"/"Executive Decision" territory) and swaps emotional torture for action hi-jinks... except that in addition to the idiocy quotient increasing, none of the principals really seems to do it with conviction; Jodie Foster may have two Oscars, years of experience and (unlike many actresses) no difficulty in being taken seriously, but this kind of thing calls for someone unpretentious like, say, Rachel McAdams. If you're going to go for broke, go for it; that they don't still doesn't make "Flightplan" unbearable, but it's a shame that it couldn't have played out its hand all the way.

In the latest duelling-movies match between Disney and DreamWorks, the House of Mouse loses for once. (Although it makes a change to cast Sean Bean in an American movie as someone who's fully on the good guys' side.)
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