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00616 – FLIGHTPLAN

MovieHype00616 – FLIGHTPLAN

I try not to be one of those nitpicky haters when it comes to movies. You know the type I’m talking about. They watch every single film just looking to say, “That’s so unrealistic. It could never happen.” Movies have their own internal logic, and all that should be required of a film is that it stay consistent to what it’s doing. (This is why I developed my Ratings System, which I know I don’t use very often any more, but I’m going to make a big effort to start again. Part of the system explains how seriously to take a movie.)

For example, in INDEPENDENCE DAY the good guys are able to crash the Aliens’ ships hooking up with their Apple laptops. Yes, that’s unrealistic. BUT ALIENS HAVE JUST INVADED EARTH!!!! How can people accept that with no qualms, but snipe at the rest?

The trick is to try to enjoy movies on their own terms. Some films don’t add up later on, but they “worked” while you were watching. THE SIXTH SENSE and THE USUAL SUSPECTS come to mind. Both were very skillfully done, so that it’s only afterwards that you see some holes in what was going on.

But there are limits. SAW is a good example of this. After hearing so much positive response to the film I watched it eagerly, only to be horrified, not at a well-crafted flick, but at how stupid it was. Hey, I’m as willing to suspend disbelief as the next guy, but I hate to be treated like a movie idiot, which I maintain you’d have to be to not see that piece of trash for what it was.

And this brings us to FLIGHTPLAN.

Jodie Foster (playing a character somewhere between Clarice Starling and Ellie Arroway) is on a plane. A really giant plane in fact, easily the biggest ever built, and I’m including that ship at the beginning of STAR WARS. You probably know that much from the title. I need to say one other thing about the plot, which will give NOTHING away to anyone who’s seen a commercial for this film, so bear with me: A few minutes into the flight Jodie’s daughter goes missing. The rest of the film deals with that.

Now, I may have the film at a disadvantage because I worked at an airport. That said, I don’t see why it would be so hard to get the small details right. Just talk to anyone who’s ever been in the lower part of a plane. They’d set you straight. However, most people don’t have my knowledge here. Would they find what happens in FLIGHTPLAN believable? Perhaps a good bit of it.

Getting the small details wrong is a minor point, though, compared to the gaping holes left in logic it would take to buy what occurs. I mean, I don’t see how anyone would be able to take the movie seriously when one jaw-dropping stretch happens after another. This isn’t a cartoon, after all. It’s a scary film, or at least it’s supposed to be. The fear isn’t based on the Boogie Man or nightmares. It’s based on a very real fear in a real situation. With that in mind, it would be nice if just ONE of the plot contrivances made sense.

But for all that, I still relatively enjoyed FLIGHTPLAN for the following three reasons. One, Jodie Foster never mails it in. She takes this role as seriously as if she’s hunting down Buffalo Bob or making CONTACT with aliens. She does her utmost to sell the role, and I appreciate that.

Hyperion’s Rating System (To learn more, click here)

Suspension of Disbelief: I think they want to play it about 4-5, that this is kind of realistic, but you need closer to a 9 if you’re going to stomach the “big twist.”

Genre Grade: FLIGHTPLAN falls solidly into Suspense/Thriller (although I suppose we could sub-genre it into movies where the characters are confined to a limited space). Sadly, the bar is set fairly low in this category, but with the gaps in logic I can’t go any higher than a C+/B-.

Pantheon Percentile: Not one of the classics, but why do I get the feeling I will see FLIGHTPLAN before too long on TBS? 45.

Objectionable Material: There’s very little violence or language, but the themes of this movie could be scary for young ones. Parents have no business taking their kids.

Second, by giving us a large plane—I mean freaking huge—we get a nice change of pace from the haunted house romantic old European City, or milieus we normally get for suspenseful fare. If you don’t know very much about planes it’s pretty fascinating to see what goes on below deck, so to speak, and if you do, at least you can laugh at the errors.

Mostly, though, I did enjoy the premise of “What would you do if your child was missing on a plane?” How far would you go? Even though the plot had zero logic to it, Foster’s character had her brain in high gear. You could see her thinking it through each step, as she tries desperately to find her child. I liked how others related to her in that respect, they doubt whether she had a kid to begin with. I really liked how far she was willing to go. Would you jeopardize the lives of 700 people to find your little girl? Would you let the world burn?

So, there you go. If you can suspend all credulity, I think you’ll have a good time.

1 comment:

Bear said...

Couple of points (I haven't seen the movie):

First, since you mention it at least twice, I'd like at least one example of an error made with the "below deck" part of the airplane.

Second, although I totally agree with you with regard to suspension of disbelief in movies, it occurred to me that maybe those people who complained about the computer virus in ID4 know as much about computers as you do about airport functionality. Just something to think about, as I do agree with you on the computer virus thing. I hypothesize that this happens with many movies and stories. For example, a doctor might find certain episodes of "House" to be laughable, but I still find it hilarious and believable and would have no clue that anything they were saying was incorrect. I'd say the more knowledge someone has about a particular topic, the more trouble they may have becoming immersed in the alternate reality because they can more easily identify faults with it.

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