Release Date: September 23rd, 2005 by Touchtone Pictures.
The Cast: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan, Erika Christensen, Marlene Lawston
Directed by Robert Schwentke.
BASIC PREMISE: After her daughter Julia (Lawston) vanishes on a flight to New York, Kyle (Foster) desperately seeks help from an Air Marshal (Sarsgaard) and the captain (Bean).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Jody Foster carries this film very well, giving a typically strong performance as Kyle. The opening scenes are very effective in setting an eerie mood to the film. In these brief scenes, we meet her daughter Julia as they are preparing to leave Prague, where Kyle's husband, who we never meet, dies a mysterious death, which is not shown either. There is one foreshadow at the airport as Kyle briefly loses Julia in a large crowd. The cinematography is very impressive as the camera shoots swiftly through the interior of the airplane and then focuses it on Kyle and Julia. It is hard to make an early prediction whether the rest of the film will be in the horror/science fiction genre or simply a thriller. However, there is one early scene that suggests horror where there is a sudden cut to the coffin as it is mounted into the airplane. Until the whopping, implausible plot twist at the end, the film is an edge-of-your-seat fun nail-bitter as soon as Julia vanishes--although not without a small trace. The only traces include her stuffed animal and a small heart that she drew on the window with her finger. Other than that, there is no record of her ever boarding the plane and, on top of that, she is informed that her daughter is actually dead. Kyle's refusal to believe this is what really drives the rest of the film. She disrupts the passengers' comfort numerous times while searching for her daughter throughout the plane. In a frightening scene, she spots two Muslim men aboard the plane whom she thinks kidnapped her daughter in order to hijack the plane. This film gives many possible explanations for what might have happened to Julia, but the problem is that the final explanation is just too silly and implausible. Besides Kyle, none of the characters seem believable or convincing. For example, Sarsgaard is very miscast as the Air Marshal who is supposed to be strong and tough, but most of the time he just looks weak and tired. Sean Bean gives a mediocre performance as the plane's captain, although he does not have as many scenes as the Air Marshal The set design is superb and realistic. It sure is fun watch Foster use her strength to climb into many interior passageways that passengers are normally prohibited from entering, such as one right above the bathroom. Unfortunately, with a script that is often stilted and gimmicky becomes increasingly difficult to be thoroughly invested in and engaged by this film. As the plot-holes gradually increase, the suspense gradually diminishes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: One of the possible explanations for Julia's disappearance is very moving and insightful because it sheds light on the consequences of grief. As Kyle's actions become more and more desperate, it is hard for anyone to decide whether she is sane or insane. If only the ending made more sense, it would have been thought-provoking to piece everything together.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Implausible ending, plot-holes, and Sarsgaard is very miscast.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a promising beginning, a terrific performance by Foster, and great cinematography, it is riddled with too many plot-holes and implausible situations that decrease its realism along with its suspense.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "F" Menu