After winning Best Actress for 1991’s Oscar winning “Silence of the Lambs,” Jodie Foster became known for being highly hesitant and selective in what roles she accepted. Taking only nine significant roles over the span of about thirteen years, Foster was showing trends of bad judgment with such disappointments as “Anna and the King” (1999) and “Panic Room” (2002). However, three years after the release of “Panic Room” sent fear into Foster’s agent’s heart, “Flight Plan” was released with promises of projecting Foster’s career into the skies of pop-cinema. The suspense-thriller directed by relatively unknown Robert Schwentke and co-written by Billy Ray (writer of the intelligent “Suspect Zero”) was not quite what was needed to reinstate Foster into acting glory, but was most certainly a step in the right direction.
“Flight Plan” is the story of an emotionally unstable mother, Kyle Pratt (Foster), who is dealing with the recent death of her husband. Her plan is to move with her daughter Julie Pratt (played by Marlene Lawston) to New York and remove both of them from the memories left in Berlin.
However, the plan is interrupted shortly into the flight when her daughter becomes missing. Being that their airplane is the largest commercial aircraft in the world, Aalto Air’s E-474, the trouble she then goes through to find Julie is somewhat thrilling, but mainly a bit tedious.
Aided by her knowledge of the aircraft she designed and an impressive intellect, Pratt achieves more than could have been expected in her search for the lost Julie, who goes from a lovable figure to one of questionable existence as the movie plays out.
Limited to only as much action as possibly could take place in an airplane, “Flight Plan” mainly suffers from the same problems from which “Panic Room” suffered. It is the gifted writing and well-assembled supporting cast that saves the film.
The production boasts a supporting cast composed of Peter Scarsgaard (“Skeleton Key,” “Empire”), Erika Christensen (“Traffic,” “Swimfan”), and Sean Bean (“Lord of the Ring,” “Troy”).
Christensen, alongside the new face Kate Beehan, serve as the primary flight attendants. Bean is the captain and Scarsgaard is the witty flight marshal accompanying the flight who provides the most support and relief to Foster’s never ending distress on the flight.
Perhaps the best aspect of “Flight Plan” is that there is obviously something else going on underneath the surface, but the movie does not allow it to be figured out until an appropriately cathartic ending.
However, its biggest flaw is the film’s tempo. The beginning of the movie is slightly hard to sit through as it sets up the plot line very slowly with little to no sound or color.
Although the movie’s mounting action is well controlled, the ending finds the opposite side of the problem and concludes a little too quickly, leaving those who involved themselves deeply into the story struggling to gather their thoughts and establish their own conclusions about how it finished.
Despite the shortcomings, Foster delivers a fairly impressive performance and the makers of “Flight Plan” certainly provide an entertaining and worthwhile film. The story begs the audience to involve themselves with questions of what is actually going on and the acting surpasses the modern standards set by current action/thriller pictures.