A spoiler is a strange tithing. There are times when people should be summarily ripped to pieces by a gang of rampaging gnomes for even contemplating letting certain things slip. (Imagine my pleasure when first seeing The Usual Suspects to discover that the graffito Keyser Soze and an arrow pointing to – well – one of the characters, was the crux of the entire thing. If I ever meet the bastard behind that I will not be held accountable…)

There are those times where people not wanting to spoil it can build up your anticipation to an extent that the film can only be a bit of an anti-climax. (You have no idea how mundane the amazing ‘twist’ in A History Of violence seemed. Luckily it was still a good film.)

However, there are times when you just have to tell the whole damn thing to hammer home just how goddam awful a film is. Flightplan is one such film.

Now, let’s get this clear from the outset: I love Jodie Foster I suppose I kinda grew up with her. She was always that cool, older, sassy, squinty mouthed, slightly geeky and completely sexy girl that I had a bit of a crush on. The fact that she’s a good actress makes it all the better. Since Silence Of The Lambs, Foster’s hollywood persona’s been pretty strange. Apparently, she’s one of the few women with the pull to actually open a movie (bet she wouldn’t have been in your top five guesses). And, they seem to have pigeonholed her into this strange ‘noble’ figure who always stands up to adversity (be that convincing folk to send her into space, or being pursued round her house by a psycho). She does however turn up in the occasional strange more arty place (she’s the best thing in Jeunet Brother‘s horrendously long and hopelessly sentimental (and accurately titled) A Very Long Engagement). Boy she’s great *sigh*. I even own a copy of Catchfire, a film so horrendously shredded by the film company that it’s director – Dennis Hopper – completely disowned it (just what is Vincent Price doing in there?), purely for the full frontal Jodie. (Actually, I still quite enjoy it. You can almost see the film it coulda been. When did he suddenly acquire an oil empire?)

For those of you that haven’t been in a cinema in the last six months (and therefore have not seen the trailer), Foster plays an aeroplane engineer flying from Germany to he states to bury her dead (possible suicide) husband. She boards the plane with her young daughter. After a snooze, she awakes to find her daughter missing. After a frantic search by herself and cabin crew, it transpires that there is no record of her daughter having been on board. A quick telephone call later, and they tell her that her daughter is actually dead and has been for two weeks. Cue lots of neurotic episodes, and continual attempts to escape the sky marshall she’s handcuffed to to cause havoc throughout the plane.

As I said, all of this is in the trailer. And, to be honest, any is she or isn’t she (barking) stuff is pretty much covered in there too. No, really, they don’t go into it any deeper than that. Anyhoo, we all know she can’t be not Jodie.

And, then we come to the big twist that you can almost here the backslaps from the business department as soon as it happens. Turns out that sky marshall Peter Sarsgaard has kidnapped her daughter and tied her to a bomb in the plane’s nose cone. You see, that way he can convince everyone that she’s a nutter demanding a ransom (no, I didn’t quite follow that either) which he will then pocket. Of course to make it really convincing he did have to go kill her husband to get her distraught enough. Well, he didn’t bank on spunky Jodie. Who cotton’s on, whacks him on the head with various close-by implements, saves her girl and blows him up (saving herself and the kid though her superior knowledge of plane engineering). The film even closes with whispered comments from the other characters that had her down as a loon “You see? She never gave up on her daughter…”. Christ, I’m cringing even typing that.

So what starts out as a ‘psychological’ thriller that, to be honest, takes itself far too seriously degenerates to embarrassing farce. Hang your heads all involved. (No, not you Ms Foster, I’ve got a special punishment for you….)

Seriously, if you are tempted to go see this, try something else. Better still, rent Red Eye a film with no pretentions (but some actual tension – Arf!). And, a much better film by a mile. If you don’t like it, you can just imagine how bad this is. Also, it’ll probably have a trailer for Flightplan on it, so you’ll see all the good bits. Just DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER THAN THAT, no matter how tempted you are or intriguing it looks. On this one, trust me.


Written by Tony Kiernan

15 December 2005 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Film

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