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With: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Erika Christensen, Kate Beahan, Marlene Lawston
Written by: Peter A. Dowling, Billy Ray
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and some intense plot material
Running Time: 93
Date: 09/22/2005

Flightplan (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Wing and a Scare

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The first 75 minutes of Flightplan announces the arrival of a major new talent in suspense filmmaking. After two feature films in his home country, German-born Robert Schwentke makes his English-language debut with this Jodie Foster thriller. However, the film's final 30 minutes makes another kind of statement: go back to Germany. Indeed, Flightplan is another one of those thrillers with a clever setup that, once all the cards are laid out and the plan is revealed in full, completely collapses. Foster stars as the recently widowed Kyle Pratt, an airline engineer formerly living in Germany and now on route back to the United States with her six year-old daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston) and her husband's coffin. She takes a nap on the plane and wakes up to find that Julia is missing. Worse, no one has any idea that she was ever there to begin with. Schwentke lays out this setup with consummate care, aided by talented new cinematographer Florian Ballhaus (Michael's son). The widescreen film plays in a muted tone, with delicate, dotted lighting and an almost whispered delivery. It's an enticing rhythm, and one that brilliantly builds suspense. Then the screenplay, originally by Peter A. Dowling but with help from Billy Ray (Shattered Glass), kicks in. The new information directly contradicts the previous information. It's insulting and frustrating, especially when the film began so promisingly. To put a point to it, Flightplan's first half is better than Wes Craven's Red Eye, but the second half is far worse. Sean Bean co-stars as the plane's captain, bringing dignity and confidence to the role, but Peter Sarsgaard is slumming as a traveling air marshal. The evil Brian Grazer (The Cat in the Hat) produced.

DVD Details: Touchstone's DVD comes with two featurettes and an audio commentary track from the director. The film is in 2.35:1 widescreen.

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