Saturday, November 26, 2005

Aisle Pass

If there's one thing worse than being stuck on a long-haul flight with noisy and excitable kids, it's surely being stuck in a cinema watching a film which is set on a long-haul flight with noisy and excitable kids, surrounded by noisy and excitable kids in the auditorium itself. During the course of Flightplan (2005) (a kind of Red Eye for folks too old to know who the fuck Rachel McAdams is), there were not just the inevitable mobile phone calls, but a gang of hoodies marching in halfway through to find their girlfriends; a charming young lady who had what can only be described as a 'Cheryl Tweedy moment' when asked by another girl to keep quiet and a fat lass who tripped over and fell face first into a huge tub of popcorn.

And thus when we find propulsion engineer(!) Jodie Foster halfway through the movie, all bloodshot eyes and indignant anxiety as she realises not only she is in a plane being flown by Sean Bloody Bean, but her daughter's gone missing and none of the passengers and crew believe her, it's all to easy to feel her pain. And yet the first half of the film works pretty well, teasing the viewer as to whether they're watching a spooky ghost story or the set-up of a more conventional action thriller, helped by another committed performance from Foster and enough red herrings (not to mention stewardess fishlips) to keep Tom Hanks speed-dating for a month.

So is Foster's character on a one-way ticket to lalaland or is there a conspiracy afoot to hold her daughter hostage? Sooner or later the film has to show its hand, and once it does, the disbelief that has up to that point been successfully suspended in mid-air, crashlands in a vertical tailspin as the plot degenerates into plane silliness. Still, an airborne thriller that neatly divides itself into smoking/non-smoking portions deserves top marks for customer service if nothing else.


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