*1/2 (out of 5)
September 23, 2005
Jodie Foster as KYLE
Peter Sarsgaard as CARSON
Sean Bean as CAPTAIN RICH
Kate Beahan as STEPHANIE
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m getting really tired of vehicle movies. And when I say “vehicle,” I don’t mean planes, trains and automobiles. I’m talking about films that are made for no other purpose than to be an excuse for some egomaniacal star to act… and act… and act some more.
The last film that came out like this was “Dark Water,” starring Jennifer Connelly. The story itself wasn’t that bad, but it was so wearing to spend most of the film letting its lead actor emote.
Similarly, “Flightplan” is nothing but a massive notch in Jodie Foster’s acting belt. There is so much acting – and overacting – in this film that it makes William Shatner look like Ben Stein. So much of “Flightplan” is an unapologetic fluff piece for Foster. One look at the poster alone should tell you that not only is she going to end up in almost every scene, but she’s going to be so prominent in the frame that her visage will haunt your dreams forever.
Another strike against “Flightplan” is that there is already a short, snapper suspense thriller-on-a-plane in the theaters right now. While “Red Eye” seemed to have pleasantly surprised audiences and critics, “Flightplan” is sure to irritate. It’s doesn’t have the same power – or even believability.
Foster plays Kyle an aircraft designer whose husband dies while the family is living overseas. In mourning, Kyle and her daughter escort the casket in a trans-Atlantic flight back to the states. After they board the flight, Kyle falls asleep. She awakens to discover her daughter is missing.
After alerting the crew, it seems that Kyle might not even have a daughter. It’s up to the captain (Sean Bean), the crew and an air marshal (Peter Sarsgaard) to discover if she’s delusional or if her daughter has indeed been kidnapped in a tin can 40,000 feet in the air.
The initial concept is interesting, but it paints itself into a corner way too early. There are basically two choices: she’s either insane, or she’s not. By the time we hit the half-way point in the film, I didn’t care. I stopped worrying about Kyle’s mental state and started worrying why it was necessary to have Jodie Foster scream at us for forty minutes.
As we moved into the climax of the movie, I was so annoyed with Foster’s character that I hoped the air marshal would put a bullet in her brain and thus end the misery for the audience. The rest of the film fell apart with a story and character motivations that never made much sense, some truly mind-blowing corny dialogue and a need to suspend disbelief so much I would have believed that Santa Claus was hijacking the plane.
Since 9/11, there have been few movies about airplanes, and with good reason. The subject matter still cuts pretty close to the bone for some. Four years later, these films are showing up again, and they still carry with them all the wretched cliches from before.
Now, there’s a new cliche: the wrongfully accused Arab passenger. It worked in “Lost,” because the character was good. In “Flightplan,” it’s just plain preachy. I get it, Hollywood. You think racial profiling is bad. Well, let me tell you something from the perspective of a former racially profiled target. I don’t think it’s that bad.
After the Oklahoma City bombing and the mistaken arrest of Richard Jewell for the Olympic bombing, all of us fat, bearded white men were scrutinized everywhere we went. If you looked a little bit rustic, you were in suspicion of being part of a whacko militia group. I flew a lot during that time, and I always seemed to be the one to be questioned while getting on a plane.
And I always said, so what? If it makes the skies safer, a healthy dose of suspicion is okay. In any case, I’ll stand for decades more of racial profiling before I stand for more movies like “Flightplan.”