Flightplan is a 2005 psychological thriller mystery 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, Sean Bean, and Matt Bomer (in his film debut). A co-production of the United States and Germany, the film's narrative follows Kyle Pratt, a widowed American aircraft engineer living in Berlin, who flies back to the U.S. with her daughter and her husband's body only to lose her daughter during the flight and must struggle to find her while proving her sanity at the same time.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Schwentke|
|Produced by||Brian Grazer|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Thom Noble|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$223.4 million|
Flightplan was distributed by Touchstone Pictures and was released worldwide theatrically on September 23, 2005. The film received mixed reviews from critics who acclaimed the performances of its cast but found the screenplay less competent. It grossed over $223 million.
Recently widowed Kyle Pratt, a Berlin-based American aviation engineer, takes her husband David's body back to the U.S. with her 6-year-old daughter Julia, aboard an aircraft Kyle helped design. Awakening from a nap, Kyle finds Julia missing, and none of the passengers or crew recall seeing her. Flight attendant Stephanie tells Kyle there is no record of her daughter boarding the flight, and Kyle is unable to find Julia's boarding pass and backpack. At Kyle's insistence, Captain Marcus Rich conducts a search of the aircraft, while the panicked Kyle is monitored by sky marshal Gene Carson.
Growing desperate, Kyle accuses Arab passengers Obaid and Ahmed of kidnapping Julia and plotting to hijack the aircraft. She reveals that her husband died falling from their roof, which she refuses to believe was suicide. Captain Rich receives a message from a Berlin hospital that Julia died with her father, and is convinced that Kyle, unhinged by her husband and daughter's deaths, imagined bringing Julia on board. The increasingly erratic Kyle is confined to her seat, where a therapist, Lisa, consoles her. Kyle doubts her own sanity until she notices the heart Julia drew on the foggy window next to her seat.
Kyle asks to use the bathroom, where she climbs into the overhead crawl space and sabotages the aircraft's electronics, deploying the oxygen masks and cutting power to the lighting. In the ensuing chaos, she rides a dumbwaiter to the lower freight deck and unlocks David's casket, suspecting Julia is inside, but finds only her husband's body. Carson escorts her to her seat in handcuffs, and explains that the flight is making an emergency stopover at Goose Bay Airport in Newfoundland, Canada where she will be taken into custody.
She pleads with Carson to search the aircraft's hold, and he sneaks down to the freight deck. Removing two explosives and a detonator concealed in David's casket, he plants the explosives in the avionics section, where a presumably drugged Julia is sleeping. It is revealed that Carson and Stephanie have conspired to hijack the aircraft for a $50 million ransom and frame Kyle, due to her knowledge of the aircraft; they abducted Julia to force Kyle to unlock the casket. Carson lies to Rich that Kyle is threatening to bomb the aircraft unless the ransom is wired to a bank account and a G3 aircraft is readied upon landing. He then plans to detonate the explosives, killing Julia, and leave Kyle dead with the detonator.
Landing in Newfoundland, the airliner is surrounded by FBI agents. After the passengers disembark, Kyle confronts Rich, who angrily declares that the ransom has been paid. Kyle realizes that Carson is the perpetrator and, assuming the role of hijacker, commands Carson to remain aboard and the crew to leave. She strikes Carson with a fire extinguisher, handcuffs him to a rail, and takes the detonator. Stephanie appears as Carson shoots the cuffs to free himself and pursues Kyle, who locks herself in the cockpit. Tricking Carson into thinking she has left the cockpit, Kyle subdues Stephanie, who flees the airliner.
Kyle finds the unconscious Julia, and Carson reveals that he murdered David to smuggle the explosives inside his casket. Kyle escapes with Julia into the aircraft's non-combustible hold, closing the door as Carson shoots at her. She detonates the explosives, killing Carson and destroying the front landing gear, but she and Julia emerge unscathed as the captain and his crew realize she had been telling the truth all along. The next morning, Captain Rich apologizes to Kyle as Stephanie is led away by the FBI. An agent informs both Captain Rich and Kyle that the Berlin mortuary director has also been arrested. Kyle carries Julia to a waiting minivan through the crowd of passengers, who realize the truth, while Obaid hands Kyle her bag. Julia awakens and asks, "Are we there yet?" before they drive away.
- Jodie Foster as Kyle Pratt
- Peter Sarsgaard as Gene Carson
- Sean Bean as Capt. Marcus Rich
- Kate Beahan as Stephanie
- Matt Bomer as Eric
- Amanda Brooks as Irene
- Jesse Burch as Row 19 Male Passenger
- Erika Christensen as Fiona
- Assaf Cohen as Ahmed
- Shane Edelman as Mr. Loud
- David Farkas as Steward
- Stephanie Faracy as Anna
- Mary Gallagher as Mrs. Loud
- Christopher Gartin as Mike
- Gavin Grazer as FBI Agent
- Lois Hall as Main Deck Grandma
- John Benjamin Hickey as David Pratt
- Michael Irby as Obaid
- Jana Kolesarova as Claudia
- Forrest Landis as Rhett Loud
- Tonje Larsgard as Flight Attendant
- Marlene Lawston as Julia Pratt
- Haley Ramm as Brittany Loud
- Greta Scacchi as Lisa
- Judith Scott as Estella
- Brent Sexton as Elias
- Fred Tungulsten as Jordan
- Kirk B. R. Woller as Grunick
Peter A. Dowling had the idea for Flightplan 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. The film also draws on Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, in which an older woman goes missing on board a train and only one passenger remembers her, especially in the scene where Kyle discovers the heart drawn by her daughter on the plane window.
Schwentke said that to make Flightplan 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.
The art direction team had to build all the interiors and the cockpit of the fictional E-474 from scratch, basing both the interior design and layout on 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. BE Aerospace provided various objects to "stage the scene"; "many of the interior sets used real aircraft components such as seats, gallies, etc."
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. 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 "E-474" involve a model with 1/10th 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 for Flightplan was released September 20, 2005, on Hollywood Records. The music was composed and conducted by James Horner and the disc contains eight 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 opened at #1 in US and Canada, grossing over $24 million in its opening weekend. It 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.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 37% based on 177 reviews, with an average rating of 5.31/10. 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." On Metacritic, it has a score of 53 out of 100 rating, based on 33 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.
Film historian Leonard Maltin in Leonard Maltin's 2012 Movie Guide (2011) described Flightplan as "suspenseful at first, this thriller becomes remote and un-involving; by the climax, it's just plain ridiculous."
Roger Ebert gave it 3 and a half out of 4 stars, praising its "airtight plot" and the acting performances. Other reviewers including the Christian Science Monitor criticised "plotholes the size of an Airbus in the script".
Aviation film historian Simon D. Beck in The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion (2016) noted that Flightplan was careful in setting the scene. "The aircraft is a fictional mammoth airliner called the 'E-474', a double-deck jumbo modeled strongly after the Airbus A-380, the large size being suitable for the missing-person plot of the film."
- "Synposis: 'Flightplan' (12A)." British Board of Film Classification, September 26, 2005. Retrieved: November 14, 2015.
- "Box office: 'Flightplan' (2005)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved: September 26. 2011.
- "In-Flight Movie: 'The Making of Flightplan'." Flightplan DVD, 2019.
- "Cabin Pressure: Designing the Aalto E-474." Flightplan DVD, 2019.
- Beck 2016, p. 99.
- "Flightplan (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
- "Flightplan". Metacritic. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- "FLIGHTPLAN (2005) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
- Maltin 2011. p. 472.
- Ebert, Roger (September 22, 2005). "Flightplan movie review & film summary (2005)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
- "Plot holes the size of an Airbus". Christian Science Monitor. September 23, 2005.
- "Flight attendants hope to ground 'Flightplan'." Today, September 29, 2005. Retrieved: January 30, 2015.
- Beck, Simon D. The Aircraft-Spotter's Film and Television Companion. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4766-2293-4.
- Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2012 Movie Guide. New York: Plume Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-452-29735-7.