2006-07-13 10:23


Struggling to come to terms with her husband's very recent death, Kyle Pratt and her young daughter fly his casket from Berlin to New York for burial. After placing every confidence in the new AALTO Air E-474 - the "safest, most technologically advanced passenger plane in the skies" - Pratt awakes from a nap only to find 6-year-old Julia has vanished mid flight. More than willing to tear apart the plane she helped design the frantic mother not only has to prove to the 20-member flight crew, captain and US air marshal that this is not another one of her hallucinations, but she also has to prove to herself that Julia does really exist.


It's not often Jodie Foster decides to work, but when she does one can be sure to expect a clever thriller. Although it's been three years since Panic Room, Foster still manages to accurately pin the role of the distraught mother fiercely protecting her offspring.

But with no clear plot of good guy versus bad guy, this edgy thriller has one wondering who the antagonists really are. Is Pratt up against a tangible foe or her elusive imagination?

The fictitious E-474, easily comparable to a five-star cruise ship, is perfectly designed. The two tier plan is the epitome of luxurious travel with seven galleys, a complimentary bar and freedom and mobility not often experienced in transcontinental flights, yet small enough for the frantic mother to cause hysteria among the 800 passengers.

Although I have a lukewarm attitude towards Flight Plan, it does offer the audience a view of an airplane one wouldn't usually be able to see - however fictional the plane might be. Foster takes the audience from the exceptionally automated cockpit to the multi-decked cargo hold with specialized compartments. We even get a sneak peak at the wires and switches that keep the plane 40 000 feet in the air as the almost crazed mother searches every nook and cranny of the E-474.

Schwentke's great directing shines during Foster's close ups as the distraught parent suffers through the terrifying emotions of a mother's worst nightmare.

He even takes a risky jab at post-9/11 air-travel paranoia as the emotionally fragile mother confronts a fellow passenger of Arab origins. I found myself cringing at his cheeky directing, daring the audience to rehash those xenophobic stereotypes.

Although Flight Plan is packed with emotional thrills, I'm having a hard time determining whether the plot is realistic or not. Would or could these sequence of events transpire on an ordinary SAA flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town?

- Megan Kakora

Jodie Foster takes flight in yet another dramatic suspense-thriller. But is it believable?

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