Lost in Transportation
Watching "Flightplan" I got a strange urge to be a fly on the wall when writers Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray were working on the story because I reckon that it must have been fantastic. Or at least when they started it must have been fantastic because the first half of the movie is not so much original but a nice thriller which sees a woman loosing her child on a plane. You can guest what is coming as doubts over the woman's sanity become the focus but it is to put it simply, entertaining. But I reckon at some point they most have hit a block and found themselves unable to come up with a reasonable ending to the build up be cause what we get causes "Flightplan" to unravel and unravel very quickly to the point it becomes a bit laughable.
When her husband dies aeronautics engineer Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster - Contact) decides to return to America with her daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston), and with her husband's coffin in the hold of a big double-decker plane. But 3 hours into the journey Kyle wakes up from a much needed sleep to find Julia not in her seat, not only that she seems to have vanished from the plane. As Kyle becomes increasingly desperate to find her she finds her sanity put into question when no one remembers seeing her board with her daughter in the first place.
So "Flightplan" is very much a movie of two halves with the first half being genuinely quite good as we watch Kyle and her daughter Julia board a plane for America, her dead husband in a coffin in the hold. We know things are not right, Kyle is very edgy and Julia is afraid of leaving the house for the airport, add the almost paranoia that she is being spied upon and you have a nice, mysterious build up. And it gets to the main story nicely as having dozed off for 3 hours Kyle wakes up on the plane to discover Julia is not in her seat and nowhere to be seen.
Now you can see some of this coming because as Kyle becomes increasingly frantic the more she annoys the other passengers and stewards who think she is going over the top. We also have an air marshal who gets involved when Kyle flips out and accuses a group of Arab passengers of taking her. And the thing you can definitely see coming is the fact that with no one having seen Kyle with her daughter doubts over whether she even exist add to the tense situation.
This is where I get a sense that writers Dowling and Ray may have hit a block because what follows on from here ruins everything. Without giving anything away it turns a tense thriller into something very different and very over the top. But it also makes it cheesy and a cliche which unfortunately causes a few laughs which are definitely not welcome after such a good build up.
When it comes to the performances it is also a case of two halves because for the first half Jodie Foster as the panic stricken Julia who frantically tries to convince others that her daughter has disappeared is good. But then come the second half and a very different sort of character and performance and one which doesn't work. Same with the rest of the cast which includes Peter Sarsgaard and Sean Bean although in fairness Sean Bean is not helped by playing a character which is not only under written but has some of the fakest moments in the whole movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Flightplan" will grab you and entertain you with a clever, atmospheric story about a child going missing on a plane then spoil everything which an ending which does not fit the build up.