Time Out says
Tue Nov 22 2005A little way into ‘Flightplan’s’ obvious (if unacknowledged) source, ‘The Lady Vanishes’ (1938), Michael Redgrave’s Gilbert cheerfully notes that ‘I’m about as popular as a dose of strychnine.’ He’s got nothing, however, on Jodie Foster’s Kyle, whose behaviour in hunting out the child she insists has disappeared in the middle of a transatlantic flight alienates not only flight crew and fellow passengers but, at least for a spell, the audience too.
The sort of in-flight high-jinks that made heroes of the leads in ‘Passenger 57’ or ‘Air Force One’ are distinctly problematic post-9/11 – but it’s characteristic of Foster’s uningratiating persona that she’ll hammer at the cockpit door or jab a finger at an Arab-American if she thinks it necessary. As in ‘Panic Room’, she’s a kind of renegade lioness, a lone mother driven to feral defence of her daughter against a male threat, lips pursed in self-reliance, grief and humiliation stored and burned for fuel behind alert blue eyes. Peter Sarsgaard, as an over-patient air marshal, wisely declines to compete, offering jaded, heavy-lidded Malkovichisms instead.
Director Robert Schwentke proves adept at handling both the suspense of the set-up and the tension of the cat-and-mouse denouement. But having managed, à la ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, to suggest that Kyle is probably delusional because the alternative is demonstrably absurd, ‘Flightplan’ offers a turnabout so preposterous as to render its earlier mining of post-9/11 anxieties downright exploitative; it even rounds things off with a pornographic explosion or two. A waste, in the end, of Foster’s cool fire.
Fri Nov 25, 2005