In one of those bum coincidences that studios seem unable to avoid, Flightplan touches down just months after Wes Craven's distinctly more entertaining mile-high thriller Red Eye. Aside from the location, the films have little in common; Flightplan owes more to Hitchcock's classic The Lady Vanishes with its tale of a grieving wife (Jodie Foster) who loses her daughter on a commercial flight, only to be told by passengers and crew that she was never there in the first place.
After an exhaustive search of the super-duper jumbo flight (the film is very good at exploring the nooks and crannies behind the public face of air travel), hunky captain Sean Bean concludes that poor old Jodie must be bonkers. She is left in the hands of a creepy-eyed air marshall played by Peter Sarsgaard. Can she escape his clutches, find her child and solve the mystery? And do we care?
For all its high production values, A-list cast and classy lensing, Flightplan is a bit of a bore. Much of the blame for this belongs to Jodie Foster, whose performance - all wounded sincerity and blinky eyes - is as efficient and bloodless as the cinematography. As in Panic Room, Foster constantly bashes us over the head with her motherly chutzpah without generating an ounce of sympathy.
By setting the action on a plane roughly the size of the Titanic, director Robert Schwentke throws away the chance for claustrophobic cat-and-mouse games, resorting instead to plot twists of such staggering implausibility that you half expect to see pigs cruising past the windows.