Flightplan does nearly everything right. It's intense, gripping, well acted, finely directed, and provides a great mystery right up until the closing moments. What it doesn't have is a logical script, one without at least 15 movie-destroying lapses in common sense that make the entire piece collapse onto itself so close to a perfect finish. It's a shame to make it through this excellently paced thriller and find yourself with more questions than answers.
The premise is wonderful. Jodie Foster plays a mother who is taking her recently deceased husband to America to have him buried. Her daughter is on board with her. She falls asleep on the flight, and when she wakes up, her child is missing and no one recalls seeing the six-year-old sitting with her.
This is handled adeptly, written with a keen sense of pacing to keep the mysteries building and the audience at bay. For nearly 70 minutes, this is a near classic. Jodie Foster is outstanding and believable. The build-up is condensed in less than 16 minutes to give the audience the backgrounds of key players.
Under even basic scrutiny, the final reveal destroys that build-up, credibility, and any hope for a good time. Without spoiling anything, nothing that happens in this film makes any sense. The plotline requires at least three (to be generous) completely implausible scenarios to occur off screen before anything starts on the plane. On the aircraft, it requires far more than what can be counted.
Characters make moves far beyond their knowledge and the exact opposite in other cases by making decisions that should render them brain dead. The entire plan is apparently left open to interpretation. There is no explanation for why Jodie Foster and her on-screen daughter are involved in anything happening on screen.
If you enjoy picking movies apart, this is the one to watch. If you want to sit back and focus squarely on some solid direction and acting, you'll find most of this enjoyable. Everyone makes it to the finish at some point, and once reached, you'll be baffled as to how the script made it to a finished $50 million film.
Flightplan is an interesting case in the video department. The film grain was digitally reduced which has two negative effects. One is that grain still exists and can be quite noticeable; the other is that the digital nature of the reduction leaves behind artifacts. They don't stand out completely, but the benefits to the process aren't worth the trade-off or the time spent to finish the task.