Jodie Foster stars in this film as a propulsion engineer named Kyle Pratt who decides to take her six year old daughter Julia on a transatlantic flight aboard a brand new jumbo jet (which she helped design). Aboard the plane, her daughter goes missing. Naturally she has no clue what is going on as the captain (Sean Bean), nor the sky marshal (Peter Sarsgaard) are of any assistance. Foster calmly looks around the plane for her daughter wondering what has happened to her. We learn more and more facts about the daughte… as the movie progresses, some of which will definitely surprise you. That is what makes this film so overly effective. How it takes a fairly common plot but adds more flare and spark to the plot by having certain areas jump out at us.
Flightplan is being compared to Foster 2002 film Panic Room due to the similar concepts (Woman and a daughter are in peril). However, the problem Foster faces in Flightplan is far more inquisitive and far more interesting. Did her daughter suddenly disappear or was she kidnapping? How could all of this occur on a airplane with tons of passengers? Foster is a usual form in this film. She comes off a resourceful and extremely brave woman. As the plot progresses forward, Foster’s response continues to change as do her overall tactics. She tends to scream out, as would any of us in a similar situation. The director, who I will get to later, seems to know how an audience’s mind work as he constantly has Foster’s character think ahead of what she will do, almost anticipating the next development of the film.
The director of the film, Robert Schwentke, gives us his first English-language film. Before this film, Schwentke, according to imdb, directed two German films that had little to no audience in this country. This film definitely will have an audience. Some people criticize this director for using a simple plot that anyone could figure out. Yes, there are many instances in the film where we tend to wonder why Foster is not asking certain questions to the flight crew that would easily solve all of her problems and end the film. But that wouldn’t be a Hollywood film now would it be?
All of the actors are on top form here. Sean Bean is effective as the captain who knows what his job is and obviously knows how to do it. Speaking of Bean, ever since the Lord of the Rings was released, he has been on quite the role with that trilogy, National Treasure and now Flightplan. Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don’t Cry) is also great as the on-flight air marshal who is under captains’ orders. He displays all of the correct tones in this role, from anger to slyness.
As the film progresses on, we learn more and more about the plot of the film, a majority of which comes off as a bit of a surprise. We would think that this is the typical disappearing daughter, daughter is mysteriously found plot, but it is nothing like that at all. Foster never once gives up the search for her daughter up until we learn the secret of the film. Robert Schwentke directs actors like Foster, Bean, and Sarsgaard in a film that is skillful, entertaining, and exciting throughout the course of the whole film (especially the middle act). Flightplan, when it was released in September 2005, garnered the audience that the films of this nature truly deserve. Hollywood wonders why grosses keep falling each year. Maybe if Hollywood released films like this instead of the constant re-make, audiences would reaffirm their faith back in the theater system. This film reminded me of a day when films were more about their skill and not who stared in them. What a great film!
Flightplan is presented in an Aspect Ratio of 2:35:1 which looks near perfect despite a few blemishes and a few signs of dirt on the print in some of the brighter scenes. Colors are very deep, sharp, and clear. The print, aside from the aforementioned dirt and blemishes, is very subdued probably due to the nature of the film. The only other fault I found was the overall presence of the color of blue. Even though the color looked clear and sharp, it seemed like it was the major color (perhaps this is due to the subject of the film. Does blue equal darkness or tenseness)? Overall this is a solid transfer that is almost near perfect.
Flightplan is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio is very good for a film with such little action. The center speaker provides us with a majority of the dialogue, which sounds clear for being spoken so softly (which can be a slight pain if you are trying to watch the film late at night. Luckily subtitles are here). The bass, especially the scene where they are looking below the decks, rumbles from the plane taking off and the engine moving. Since there are no real big, over the top action scenes in this film, The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track succeeds on a high level giving us the overall feel that we are on an actual plane.
Despite the film only really having 2 key features, the two we are given are great.
- The In-Flight Movie: The Making of Flightplan: Here we get the making of the film broken into five parts. The first part entitled Security Checkpoint: Story of a Thriller deals with the overall concept of the film. The director talks about the worry of doing a film totally on a plane after 9/11 and mainly speaks how excited he was to do the film. The second part entitled Captain’s Greeting: Meet the Director is a longer interview with the director. He speaks more about the type of effects he wanted to try to achieve in his first American film from visual to special effects. The type of cameras he used, the actors, etc. The third part entitled Passenger Manifest: Casting the Film deals with the overall casting of the film from Foster’s part to the extras chosen. The director wanted naturalistic acting with nothing too over the top that looked fake. The fourth part entitled Connecting Flights: Post Production deals with the overall timing of the film. The director wanted the pace of the film to increase more and more as the film continued on. Fast when you need to go fast and slow when you need to go slow. You need to have a certain pace, according to the director, otherwise the audience will become tired. The final part is entitled Emergency Landing: Visual Effects deals with the overall effects of the film. The plane is a complete CG shot with just a 1/10 scale of the exterior of the plane. They mention how they slowed down one of the final shots to give the audience that feel that what is happening is deserved. At the running time of nearly 40 minutes, this is an excellent making of that gives of nearly everything we wanted to know about the film and more.
- Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalto E-474: This feature speaks of the amount of product that had to be built for the film. Even though the final film’s plane is a mostly a CG shot, the crew did actual build a lot of the final plane to get an idea of what they wanted to shoot. It was actually the first double-decker plane built as a fully functional shooting set. Just like the making of the film, this is a great feature that gives us even more information about the film.
Flightplan is, simply put, a great film that is, if I may say, frightening at some points (the thought of losing a child or even someone you know and everyone thinking you are delusional is scary). The film is skillful with top-notch acting and the DVD is presented with a great video and audio presentation. Despite the lack of many features, the two we are given are informative and are an interesting way to spend an hour.. If you are looking for a first class thriller, give Flightplan your time.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- The In-Flight Movie: The Making of Flightplan” featurette
- Cabin Pressure: Designing the Aalto E-474 featurette