There’s a girl! There’s a girl on the wing of the movie! Well, no, there isn’t, but why couldn’t I get William Shatner out of my head during this tale of terror and insanity in international airspace? Oh, I don’t mean to impugn Jodie Foster, whose integrity and dedication to her craft is as impeccable as always… it’s just that it feels increasingly out of place as the absurdity ratchets itself up — you can almost feel her spinning her artistic wheels as the story spins into the ridiculous. Foster’s (Panic Room) aeronautical engineer boards a new state-of-the-art jumbo jet with her six-year-old daughter (Marlene Lawston) for an overnight flight from Berlin to New York, and when Mom wakes up from a nap, the kid is gone, nowhere to be found on the plane. Peter Sarsgaard (The Skeleton Key), as an air marshal, and Sean Bean (The Island), as the plane’s captain, provide solid, authoritative presences — both as performers and as their characters — meant to suggest that Foster is going insane. But wait! We know our movies: these guys have played sneaky villains, too. Flightplan knows we know our movies too well, and it ends up resorting to near impossibilities in its attempt to keep us guessing till the end. But by then, the laughter of derision, not the gasp of surprise, is the only possible reaction.
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