FLIGHTPLAN (9/23/2005)
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean (who, miraculously, does NOT die in this film)

My Rating: 8/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 37% (understandable, I guess)

PLOT: A bereaved woman (Foster) and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane.

I get it. “Flightplan” strains at the leash of credibility. A LOT. In order for the plot to work, the audience has to believe that a number of people would have to be involved in a massive conspiracy, a cacophony of coincidences that scream “CONTRIVED” to any sane moviegoer.

But, man, as ridiculous as it seems, the movie still works incredibly well, even upon repeat viewings. Director Robert Schwentke has not exactly distinguished himself since this film (credits include “R.I.P.D.”, “RED”, and the last two “Divergent” movies), but “Flightplan” displays a surefire command of tone, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere while keeping the camera free to move around the plane along seemingly impossible paths.

“Flightplan” is a classic example of what Roger Ebert called a “locked room” puzzle. A girl is missing on an airplane – admittedly a very LARGE airplane, but still. There are only so many places she can be. The plane is searched, but she’s nowhere to be found, leaving only two possibilities: she was never there to begin with, or someone’s lying. But who? And why? She thinks she recognizes an Arab passenger on the plane…was he staring in her apartment window the previous night? Is she going crazy, or has there been an actual kidnapping? That’s the central mystery, and it carries the movie for most of its brief running time.

(There’s a neat section where Foster’s character (who, coincidentally, helped design the plane they’re on), monkeys around with the plane’s electronics and gets the oxygen masks to fall, to create a diversion for herself. Tell you what, that would get MY attention.)

The final resolution is…well, let’s say it answers all the questions of what happened without addressing HOW it was possible. A lot of folks found that unsatisfactory (thus the 37% on Rotten Tomatoes), but the movie is so well-made and executed that, by the time the credits rolled, I didn’t mind it so much. But, you know…that’s just me.

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