Let's extract a promise from all studios out to extract an honest dollar from us thriller buffs: no more green-lighting story treatments that Rod Serling would have wadded up and hurled basketward. Even Mr. To Serve Man himself would have been hard-pressed to write his way out of the corner excavated by Flightplan, in which a recently widowed airline engineer (Jodie Foster) awakes on an intercontinental flight to find her young daughter missing. Thickening the plot, no one onboard can remember her having brought a kid along in the first place. Director Robert Schwentke and writers Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray one-up the overrated Red Eye by remembering to view the action almost entirely through the eyes of their panicked protagonist, whose ever-worsening paranoia is ideally suited to Foster's haggard-but-heroic style. In a brave touch, her character is shown as harboring as much innate suspicion of two Middle Eastern passengers as does anyone else on the plane. But the entire point of telling a story like this is to get to the reveal, and not only does Flightplan crap out on its promises, it does it so spectacularly that the mystery's "resolution" refuses to make sense when approached from any possible angle. The movie imparts a fear of flying, all right but only because it reminds you of the dross you're usually forced to watch up there.
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