Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Schwentke|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Thom Noble|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$223.4 million|
Flightplan is a 2005 German-American mystery-thriller film directed by Robert Schwentke, written by Peter A. Dowling and Billy Ray, and starring Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen, Kate Beahan, Greta Scacchi, and Sean Bean. The film, distributed by Touchstone Pictures, was released theatrically in the United States on September 23, 2005.
The basic premise of the plot (albeit with a very different denouement) is quite similar to a 1955 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled "Into Thin Air", as well as Hitchcock's 1938 film The Lady Vanishes.
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Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster), an American aircraft engineer employed in Berlin, Germany, is widowed with a six-year-old daughter Julia after her husband David falls off the roof of their building to his death. Kyle decides to bury him in their hometown back in the U.S., on Long Island, New York City. They fly aboard a passenger aircraft, the engines of which Kyle helped design. After falling asleep, Kyle wakes to find that Julia is missing. She begins to panic, and Captain Marcus Rich (Sean Bean) is forced to conduct a search. None of the passengers remembers seeing her daughter; Julia has no register in either the Berlin airport or the passenger manifest; and Kyle cannot find Julia's boarding pass. Marcus and the other crew members suspect that Kyle has become unhinged by her husband's death and has imagined bringing her daughter aboard. One flight attendant, Stephanie (Kate Beahan), is particularly unsympathetic. Faced with the crew's growing skepticism regarding her daughter's existence, Kyle becomes more and more desperate. Because of her increasingly erratic, panicked behavior, Air Marshal Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) is ordered to handcuff and guard her.
Capt. Rich receives a wire from the hospital in Berlin, saying Julia was with her father when he fell off the roof and also died of internal injuries. Kyle furiously denies it. The crew believes she is delusional. A therapist, Lisa (Greta Scacchi), tries to console her, causing Kyle to doubt her own sanity until she notices that a heart Julia had drawn earlier on the window next to her seat is real. Kyle is emboldened and convinces the therapist to let her use the bathroom. Instead of doing so, she climbs into the upper compartment and sabotages the aircraft's electronics, deploying the oxygen masks and interrupting lighting. She uses the chaos to take a dumbwaiter to the lower freight deck. She desperately searches for Julia and finally opens her husband's casket, at which she emotionally breaks down. Carson finds her, puts her in handcuffs and escorts her back, announcing that she will be arrested as soon as they land.
Kyle makes a final plea to Carson that she needs to search the plane upon landing. Carson considers for a moment, then decides to speak to the captain. He sneaks back into the freight deck to remove two explosives and a detonator concealed in David's casket, then climbs down to the Avionics Section, revealing Julia (Marlene Lawston) who is sleeping (presumably drugged). He attaches the explosives to the side of the platform. At this point, it is revealed that Carson, Stephanie, and the mortuary director in Berlin (Christian Berkel) are part of a conspiracy. Carson tells Rich that Kyle is a hijacker and is threatening to blow up the aircraft unless the airline transfers $50 million into a bank account. The conspirators actually murdered David and abducted Julia to frame Kyle. Carson tells an unnerved Stephanie that he intends to blow up the aircraft, killing the unconscious Julia and leaving Kyle dead with the detonator in her hand.
After making an emergency landing at Goose Bay Airport in Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, the passengers exit the aircraft as the tarmac is surrounded by U.S. FBI agents. As the captain is leaving, Kyle runs to speak to him with Carson in tow. The captain demands she give up the charade, stating the $50 million she demanded has been paid. Realizing the truth, Kyle decides to take advantage of the role of hijacker, demanding Carson stay on board and the crew disembark. Carson hesitates but realizes that, if he refuses, it would be seen that the charade was his.
As soon as the plane's door closes, Kyle knocks Carson unconscious with a fire extinguisher, handcuffs him to a rail, and takes the detonator from his pocket. Stephanie comes out of hiding. Carson regains consciousness and fires at Kyle with a concealed gun, sending her running. He chases after Kyle, shooting, until she locks herself in the cockpit. She opens a hatch door to the plane's attic and throws out a binder to fool him. Carson hears the upstairs thud and leaves. Kyle exits and encounters a guilt-ridden Stephanie, who panics and flees the plane.
Kyle searches Avionics and finds the unconscious Julia. Carson soon follows and, while searching, reveals to her how he secretly gagged and dumped her daughter into the food bin and disparages the passengers who would never care enough to notice. Carson points his gun to where Julia lay before but finds it empty. He turns around and sees Kyle carrying Julia into the hatch of the cargo hold, with the detonator in hand. Carson shoots at her as she closes the door. With the non-combustible walls of the hold to protect them, Kyle detonates the explosives while leaning on David's coffin, killing Carson. As Kyle carries her daughter out onto the tarmac, all the passengers are shocked upon realizing that she had been telling the truth the whole time.
At the airport terminal, Capt. Rich comments to Kyle on how much the two of them look alike before apologizing for his skepticism. Stephanie is led away by the FBI in handcuffs. An agent approaches Kyle and asks her to identify the mortuary director in Berlin who has been detained. Kyle carries the still unconscious Julia through the crowd of passengers, and one of the Arab passengers helps pick up her bag, as an act of respect and forgiveness for her having earlier suspected him of being involved in the kidnapping. Before loading her daughter into a van to take them away, Julia wakes up and sleepily asks "Are we there yet?" as they prepare to leave.
- Jodie Foster as Kyle Pratt
- Peter Sarsgaard as Gene Carson
- Erika Christensen as Fiona
- Kate Beahan as Stephanie
- Greta Scacchi as Lisa
- Sean Bean as Capt. Marcus Rich
- Michael Irby as Obaid
- Assaf Cohen as Ahmed
- Shane Edelman as Mr. Loud
- Mary Gallagher as Mrs. Loud
- Haley Ramm as Brittany Loud
- Forrest Landis as Rhett Loud
- Fred Tungulsten as Jordan
- Jana Kolesarova as Claudia
- Brent Sexton as Elias
- Marlene Lawston as Julia Pratt
- Judith Scott as Estella
- Tonje Larsgard as Flight Attendant
- Amanda Brooks as Irene
- John Benjamin Hickey as David Pratt
- Matt Bomer as Eric
- Christopher Gartin as Mike
- Kirk B.R. Woller as Grunick
- Stephanie Faracy as Anna
- Jesse Burch as Row 19 Male Passenger
- Lois Hall as Main Deck Grandma
- David Farkas as Steward
Peter A. Dowling had the idea for the film in 1999 on a phone conversation with a friend. His original pitch for producer Brian Grazer involved a man who worked on airport security doing a business trip from the United States to Hong Kong, and during the flight his son went missing. A few years later, Billy Ray took over the script, taking out the terrorists from the story and putting more emphasis on the protagonist, who became a female as Grazer thought it would be a good role for Jodie Foster. The story then focused on the main character regaining her psyche, and added the post-September 11 attacks tension and paranoia. There was also an attempt to hide the identity of the villain by showcasing the different characters on the plane. Both Dowling and Ray were allowed to visit the insides of a Boeing 747 at the Los Angeles International Airport to develop the limited space on which the story takes place.
Schwentke said that to make the film as realistic as possible, he wanted naturalistic, subdued performances. One example was Peter Sarsgaard, whom he described as an actor "who can all of a sudden become a snake uncoiling". First-time actress Marlene Lawston became Foster's daughter Julia. Sean Bean was cast to subvert his typecasting as a villain, and mislead audiences into thinking he was part of the villainous plot. The director also picked each of the 300 passengers through auditions.
Schwentke described Flightplan as a "slow boiling" thriller, where the opening is different from the faster ending parts. The director added that sound was used to put audiences "off-kilter".
The art direction team had to build all the interiors of the fictional E-474 from scratch, including the cockpit. The interior design and layout is similar to an actual airplane, the Airbus A380. It is noted that the amount of dead space within the cabin, cargo and avionic areas do not reflect the actual amount of dead space within any aircraft. Of special note in the movie is the avionics computer seen below the cockpit and the clean space between the upper deck passenger areas and the fuselage. To allow for varied camera angles, the set had many tracks for the camera dolly to move, and both the walls and the ceiling were built on hinges so they could easily be swung open for shooting. BE Aerospace provided various objects of the decoration. The design and colors tried to invoke the mood for each scene - for instance, a white room for "eerie, clinical, cold" moments, lower ceilings for claustrophobia, and wide open spaces to give no clues to the audience. Most exterior scenes of the plane involve a model with one tenth of the aircraft's actual size, with the images being subsequently enhanced through computer-generated imagery. The explosion in the nose involved both life sized and scaled pieces of scenery. A one-half scale set of the avionics area was constructed to make the explosion and fireball look bigger.
The score was released September 20, 2005, on Hollywood Records. The music was composed and conducted by James Horner and the disc contains 8 tracks. Horner stated that film's score tried to mix the sound effects with "the emotion and drive of the music", and the instruments were picked to match the "feelings of panic" Kyle goes on through the film. These included Gamelan instruments, prepared piano, and string arrangements. No brass instruments are used in the soundtrack.
Flightplan grossed $89,707,299 at the domestic box office and $133,680,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $223,387,299. It also grossed $79,270,000 on DVD rentals.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 38% rating based on 173 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's consensus states: "The actors are all on key here, but as the movie progresses, tension deflates as the far-fetched plot kicks in." Metacritic reports a 53 out of 100 rating, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants called for an official boycott of the film, which they say depicts flight attendants as rude, uncaring, indifferent, and even one as a "terrorist".
- "FLIGHTPLAN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. September 26, 2005. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
- Flightplan (2005). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- In-Flight Movie: The Making of Flightplan; Flightplan DVD
- Cabin Pressure: Designing the Aalto E-474; Flightplan DVD
- "Flightplan (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
- "flightplan reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
- "Flight attendants hope to ground 'Flightplan'". Today. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 30 January 2015.