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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // January 24, 2006
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted January 15, 2006 | E-mail the Author

The Movie-

What parent hasn't had a mortifying fear of their child disappearing? A woman is forced to prove her sanity in order to save her daughter's life in this suspenseful thriller. Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster), aircraft designer, is dealing with the sudden death of her husband. As if the death of one's spouse isn't enough to drive someone to the razor's edge of sanity, here our heroine falls asleep with her daughter Julia on a flight taking the body of her husband home to New York from Berlin and when Kyle awakes, her 6 year-old child is gone, vanished- NOWHERE to be found. Her daughter's luggage, boarding pass and most any concrete evidence of Julia ever being on the flight have vanished with her and we are introduced to a woman agonized, angry, confused but above all determined to find her little girl- there is no helplessness in Foster's character.

At odds with pretty much everyone aboard, she takes initiatives to not only get the staff off their duffs and busy in the search, but also goes to great lengths to find Julia herself, much to the distress of plane Captain Rich (Sean Bean, who gives a fine performance in a rather small role) and Air Marshall Carson (Peter Sarsgaard, who also excels here). What ensues is chaos, with Foster's character being alternately humored and strong-armed as she wreaks havoc trying to convince both crew and passengers that she isn't crazy as well as looking for answers as to what the heck is going on here.

At times Hitchcockian with a dash of Shyamalan thrown in for good measure, director Robert Schwentke takes us on a ride with Foster throughout this film, giving depth and scope to our surroundings as well as demonstrating just how easily someone COULD be hidden on an airplane. You can see the gears turning in lots of heads when Pratt implores those around her to believe that she is something more than a disturbed woman looking for a child that seemingly doesn't exist. It is a bit convenient that Pratt "happens" to be an aircraft engineer, but without that attribute the plot would be, well, dead in the water. We are given glimpses of suspicious Arab passengers, overly-coddled kids and their soothing parents, and flight attendants that are way too nonchalant about both their duties and this mad woman at hand. Is she crazy? Did her daughter die along with her husband? For that matter, did he "fall" off the roof of their hotel in Berlin, or was it a suicide? Question after question pops up along the way- and Kyle is at the fore, trying to make sense of it all with little help in her corner.

I'm someone who has warmed to the performances of Jodie Foster as I've gotten physically older in the same time frame as the actress herself. Something that stuck me from the beginning of Flightplan is the fact that Foster is more capable of giving the appearance of a woman of around forty these days- at the beginning of the film looking somewhat haggard from the loss of her husband, then strained and washed out both emotionally and physically from the disappearance of her daughter. When at ease she takes on a much younger appearance, but it is of note that these days we are seeing an actress aging gracefully in years as well as craft and using both to her advantage in this movie. It feels like a role Foster would command, and she does not disappoint. Regardless of how you feel about the film itself, Jodie is on top of her game here.

The DVD-

This is a one-disc presentation that does a very nice job of allocating the space available for a pleasing film presentation as well as giving the viewer a good choice of audio options and a few extras.


Flightplan is presented in an attractive 2:35:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer. At times scenes can appear a bit murky but I attribute that to the movie rather than the transfer itself. For the most part images are sharp and clear, colors and skin tones appear natural, and blacks seem dead on. Overall this is a very good looking disc.


Of particular note here is the excellent audio options for this disc. Being a fan of DTS presentations in general, I was happy to see that option included for this movie. The DTS 5.1 track is clear, pleasingly immersive and makes very good use of the surrounds when called for. A Dolby 5.1 track is also included and sounds nearly as good, if not quite as rich.


Extras here are "The In-Flight Movie: the making of Flightplan" featurette: an interesting little behind the scenes piece with the filmmakers and stars, worth a look at about 38 minutes in length. "Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalito E-474" Featurette: clocks in at about 10 minutes where we are given insight into the design and construction of the set- the enormous plane which is the setting for the movie. Also included here is an audio commentary with director Robert Schwentke: An informative sit-down with Schwentke giving his thoughts and interpretations of the film. Dry for my tastes but okay as commentaries go.

Final Thoughts-

This is one of those movies I've been curious about since it's theatrical release, what with some lackluster reviews yet a fairly hefty box office take. Are there some implausible details here? You bet. A plot hole here and there? Yes. Did I like the movie? Definitely. Foster gives a super performance here, as do Sarsgaard and Bean. It's a suspenseful little action vehicle written and tailored for Jodie Foster on a disc that looks and sounds very good, and one that I'll watch again. Recommended.
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