A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
How can a little girl simply disappear from an airplane at 37,000 feet? By asking this question and not cheating on the answer, "Flightplan" delivers a frightening thriller with an airtight plot. It's like a classic Locked Room Murder, in which the killer could not possibly enter or leave, but the victim is nevertheless dead. Such mysteries always have solutions, and so does "Flightplan," but not one you will easily anticipate. After the movie is over and you are on your way home, some questions may occur to you, but the film proceeds with implacable logic after establishing that the little girl does not seem to be on board.
The movie stars Jodie Foster in a story that bears similarities to her "Panic Room" (2002). In both films, a woman uses courage and intelligence to defend her child against enemies who hold all the cards. The problem she faces in "Flightplan" is more baffling: Who are her enemies? Why would they kidnap her daughter? How is it possible on an airplane?
For that matter, has it really happened? Foster plays Kyle Pratt, a jet propulsion engineer who has been employed in Germany on the design of the very airplane she is now using to cross the Atlantic. She is on a sad mission. Her husband, David, has died after falling -- she insists he fell and did not jump -- from a rooftop. The coffin is in the hold, and she is traveling with Julia (Marlene Lawston). She falls asleep, she wakes up, and Julia is gone.
Kyle methodically looks around the airplane, calm at first, then on the edge of panic. She tries to seem more rational than she feels, so the crew won't dismiss her as a madwoman. Certainly they're tempted, because the passenger list lacks Julia's name, the departure gate at Munich says she did not get on the plane, and her boarding pass and backpack are nowhere to be found. The captain is Sean Bean, very effective as a man who knows what his job is and how to do it. Peter Sarsgaard plays the in-flight air marshal, under the captain's orders. They receive a message from Munich informing them that Julia was killed along with her father. Obviously, the traumatized mother is fantasizing