Saturday, September 24, 2005

REVIEW: Flightplan

WARNING: It is my duty to warn you that this review may contain spoilers. It is NOT my duty to warn you that the movie kind of sucks, but I'm doing it anyway because THAT'S how much I care about my readers.

A thought occured to me last week somewhere around the middle of my ordeal enduring "Cry_Wolf:" Is it possible that, when it comes to "what's-going-on-here" thrillers, audience expectations have actually come full circle? What I mean is... by now, we all "know" as filmgoers that it's never "the most likely suspect" because that wouldn't be very surprising. Yet, a few decades now of the person most likely to be guilty never being guilty may have finally grown old-hat... is it possible that, anticipating that very effect, writers of would-be mysteries are now assuming that our instinct to overlook "the most likely suspect" is powerful enough that to have that person actually be guilty of something can be considered a surprise?

You can draw your own conclusions about whether or not this applies to either "Cry_Wolf" or "Flightplan." What I can tell you they share in common is the link of being dull, predictable "mystery" films that are too easy to figure out and don't reward continued vieiwing after (or before, really) you guess who (if anyone) is up to no good.

Jodie Foster (looking about as depressed as I would be if I was a famous actress and this was apparently the only movie I could find to be in) toplines as a smart, tough, omnicompotent career woman who never takes guff from all the (always) much-taller males or (always) much more "made-up" women in her way... in other words, her go-to characterization ever since "Silence of The Lambs." Here, she's a recent widow flying to New York from Berlin on a giant-sized luxury plane, 6 year-old daughter in tow.

The next part has been obscenely well-covered in the promotion: She falls asleep, wakes up, the kid is missing. A search turns up nothing. An air marshall (Peter Sarsgaard) sticks close by. She starts to get crazy. Surprise! She is crazy: The kid is dead along with the husband, and she's delusional.

The iron law of "everyone thinks I'm crazy" movies is that a lead character is only REALLY crazy if craziness is suggested in the third act, the later the better. If accusations of insanity are made at any point during or before the second act, it means that the more crazier the conspiracy the more likely it is to be for real.

And so, surprising absolutely no one, nefarious doings are underway. Fortunately, Foster's character happens to be an aeronautical engineer who knows the construction of the plane inside and out, allowing her to John McLaine her way around the place while the film marks it's time in between "she's crazy" and "no, she's not crazy." Don't expect me to be impressed if you've already guessed that everything comes down to a claustrophobic stalking sequence in which a badly-beaten but ultra-endurant baddie waves a gun and rants aloud details designed to patch gaping plot holes. A big ol' No-Prize, though, for those who predicted that the film finds time to fit in preachy tableaus about post-911 airline paranoia.

There's really nothing to see here. It's dull, it's not engaging as a mystery, it's cast is largely wasted and it's visually flat. Skip it.

FINAL RATING: 4/10

1 comment:

Modemac said...

Hopefully you'be heard that Flightplan's plot is not-very-subtly lifted from the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes. If you haven't seen the original, then do so it: it's every good as its legend says. The first 15 minutes of the movie take some getting used to, as the style of black-and-white British films of the 1930s was a bit different from the cinema style of today (especially since there is no musical soundtrack to the film at all, outside the opening credits); but once the characters board the train and the mystery begins, there's no let up.