Flightplan follows ace flightplanner Captain Stacy “Flightplan Shitter” Kurtis (Jodie Foster) during an eventful day of filing a flightplan for her 6:30pm flight from Los Angeles International to Chicago O’Hare.
The film portrays Kurtis as a dying breed, the solo flightplan filer who prefers to work alone. The audience quickly gets the impression that she’s somewhat of a loose cannon, a maverick of the flightplan-filing world, an impression that’s brought home by her constant humming of Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone.
“She plays too fast and loose with the rules, always looking to cut corners,” says an Air Traffic controller (a surprisingly intense Alan Thicke in a powerful cameo) to an intern. “She’ll get someone killed one of these days with those antics.”
Looking confused, the intern replies. “Then why don’t they fire her?”
“Because she’s the best.”
For FAA paperwork enthusiasts like myself, the film should have been a home run. But the film quickly falls into the same trap as other big-budget adaptations (the screenplay was adapted from a stack of 300 photocopies of commercial flight plans from 1994-1996). I looked forward to watching the dynamic Foster pour over SIGMETs charts, forecasted cloud cover reports and turbulence warnings, but in reality this occupies no more than 60% of the film.
Even worse, the addition of a rival flightplan-filing gang led by their rapping leader Captain Baldwin (the woefully miscast Judi Dench) only adds confusion to the mix and the introduction of the love interest and terrorist ringleader (a creepily CGI-reanimated Burgess Meredith) doesn’t help matters. A dance-off in the mall in the third act seems forced, and the film quickly spirals off into the all-too-familiar Hollywood turd-abyss.
The rumours that surrounded this troubled production as it limped towards completion are now widely known. The repeated times Fred Durst stormed off the set, along with the constant demands echoing from Ms. Foster’s trailer for “more teenage boys! SUPPLE teenage boys!” appears to have taken a toll on the rest of the crew. The film feels like it was rushed through production, as evidenced by the final 10 minutes of the film being nothing more than a slideshow of childrens drawings of planes.
Flightplan is one “flight” that could have used a “flight plan,” had it actually been a flight rather than a film.