Flightplan (2005)

*. Bunny Lake Is Missing . . . on an airplane. Which is one way, and a rather bold one at that, of doubling down on what was a highly improbable premise in the first place. Remarkably, Flightplan is not as crazy as Otto Preminger’s laughable 1965 film, which took Evelyn Piper’s story and made a joke of it. Far-fetched, yes. But it’s not bonkers.
*. This leads me to comment, again, on one of the more mystifying habits of filmmakers on their DVD commentaries. What I’m referring to is the way they sidestep attribution of what are clear influences and precursors. I’ve mentioned this before in my notes on Don’t Breathe and Villains (both updates of Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs), and Quarantine (an English-language remake of Rec). Well, you can see where I’m going with this. Director Robert Schwentke doesn’t mention Bunny Lake Is Missing once during his commentary.
*. He does mention Hitchcock’s name, in passing, but more by way of denying any significant influence. He also doesn’t cite any of Hitch’s movies by name, like The Lady Vanishes (from which they took not only a lot of the plot but the window-writing clue) or Lifeboat (for its single set, albeit supersized here). I don’t know why you wouldn’t acknowledge such obvious influences. Though to be fair, most contemporary reviews avoided them as well.
*. But I guess none of that matters. Flightplan, like any movie, has to make its own way, and it stands or falls on its merits. Critics didn’t care for it, mainly because of the absurdity of the plot, which really is a doozy. But most reviewers singled out Jodie Foster for praise, which I think is well deserved. It’s a complex part, difficult to bring off, and she delivers. Jodie Foster with her game face on is one of the peak experiences in film, and she’s got it on here. This is especially important given that her supporting players are weirdly subdued. Peter Sarsgaard in particular seems ready to fall asleep half the time.
*. The critics were too hard on Flightplan. As a suspense thriller I think it does well enough. It’s not always gripping, the plot really is silly, the reveal of the villains is underplayed, and the Goose Bay coda should have just been skipped. (Schwentke hadn’t thought it necessary but test screenings changed his mind; I think he should have stuck with his gut.) Still, I found this to be an enjoyable sort of B-picture, with everything around Foster adequately turned out. I think the main thing it lacks is a lighter touch. I don’t mean less serious, but more aware of the story’s roots in the trash of the last days of pulp.

26 thoughts on “Flightplan (2005)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    Rules about Critics
    1) Not turned on by anything to do with sex
    2) Do not find crude comedy funny; they’re above that.
    3) Know better than the plots of the films they review and could do muchx better.
    and so on…

    Remember this as being a solid studio film with a strong lead and a story that satisfied without making much sense.

    1. Alex Good

      Yeah this isn’t a bad little movie. Funny thing is it might have been better if it had been done on less of a budget. Might have made them more creative and lighter. Surprised to find that it actually did very good box office too.

      1. tensecondsfromnow

        I think the public like this kind of pre-packaged material, a star, a mystery, it’s easy to understand what we’re getting. No reason why Jodie Foster couldn’t play Charlie Chan in a series of movies for Netflix.

      2. tensecondsfromnow

        Dribbling spittle on your desk is not teaching. I gather your tenure has been cancelled in view of your poor performance. Hopefully you’ll find a top role model to follow soon….

  2. tensecondsfromnow

    1. Charlie Chan at the Opera
    2. Alex Good’s Quiz is Missing
    3. Bugsy Malone
    4. Alex Good, The Bad and the Ugly
    5. Charlie Chan’s Racist Incident
    6. Dj Otzi Live
    7. Gadzooks, It’s Lulu.


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