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Movie Review: Flightplan

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 26, 2005


A couple months ago I had this bizarre dream that played out almost like the setup for a movie. It started out in a distant, desolate future and I was recruited to go back in time and fix things so the future would be a better place. Except, nobody really knew if time travel was possible and I could, in all probability, end up dead. This is kind of like the premise of the movie 12 MONKEYS, but this was much more interesting, although maybe just because it happened to me.

Anyway, I went through the procedure to go back in time, which was just jumping into a little black hole, kind of like a rain gutter. It was then I actually thought I was dead. Instead of going back in time, I ended up in pitch blackness stretching out into infinity. Then, as my eyes adjusted, I noticed I was swimming around giant red poles that had no tops or bottoms. They too stretched out to infinity, lined up in neat, perfect rows. Finally, as I got closer to these poles, I realized they were made up of hundreds of faces: Giant red faces stacked up on top of each other ad infinitum.

What I was doing there I initially couldn’t figure out. So, I just swam about figuring this was the end and I was supposed to hang out with these faces for the rest of eternity. But, eventually, an idea came to me. There had to be some reason I was here with these giant faces. These were faces I could become. If I picked one of them and touched it that face would become mine in the real world.

So, I “swam” about a bit more, picked one face more or less randomly and sailed right into it.

I then woke up in a disgustingly dingy hotel room. The air was musty, the walls were grimy and the rug was twenty years old and never vacuumed. It was dark, but bright lights and loud noises were coming in through the curtained window.

I got out of bed, walked out into an equally revolting hallway and down a dirty pair of stairs. When I finally walked outside, I found myself in Times Square circa 1980.

Then, I really woke up. It was the middle of the night. I was in bed with my wife in my home in Los Angeles, 2005. I laid there for the longest time wondering what was the correct reality. Was I actually living my life in L.A.? Had I come from the future and didn’t know it? How did I get from Times Square 1980 to Hollywood 2005? What was my mission?

The above story is 100% true and I’m not entirely sure why I’m recounting it here. Listening to other people’s dreams is usually pretty boring.

In Flightplan, though, Jodie Foster boards a transatlantic flight from Berlin to New York with her young daughter. A few minutes into the flight, she falls asleep and wakes up to find her daughter missing with no one on the plane being able to remember there being a little girl on board at all. She eventually learns that there is no record of her daughter ever coming on the flight at all.

We’re not privvy to Jodie’s dreams when she was asleep, but she wakes up into a reality that she’s not sure she even believes. Throughout the film she remains adamant that her daughter is alive and on the plane somewhere, fighting with crew and passengers alike. But Jodie Foster is such an amazing actress that even though she never verbalizes doubts about her sanity, you can see the those doubts haunting the back of her mind. Is her daughter really dead? Did she really imagine bringing her on board?

Flightplan is a decent thriller. Most of all it’s fun and I was able to get caught up in the ride. The cinematography is very innovative to come up with all kinds of interesting angles, shots and lighting schemes to show the same monotonous location. As I said, Jodie Foster is great and Sean Bean is woefully underused as the stressed-out pilot.

My main complaint about the film is that I wish the passengers had been given better, more complex personalities. There are the stereotypical obnoxious Americans, the sensitive British psychiatrist, the frustrated flight attendants, the aggressive air marshal and the accused, irate Muslims. While the mystery of the movie isn’t easy to figure out, it isn’t all that difficult, either. There should have been more obstacles to stand in Jodie’s way than just a couple of folks on a flight of a couple hundred.