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MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for violence and some intense plot material.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Thriller Drama
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 23, 2005 (wide)
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures

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Parenting and Family Q&As
Featuring: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen, Sean Bean, Haley Ramm
Director: Robert Schwentke
Producer: Brian Grazer
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

“She designed the plane from top to bottom. Now she’ll have to tear it apart.”

A mother’s love is unconditional. As God’s love is for us. A Mother’s love is steadfast, unlimited, tender and never ending. Just as God’s love is for us. A Mother’s love is also fierce, staying close to protect, even unto her own death, if need be, to save her child. As Jesus has proven to us with His sacrificial love for us and fierce defense for us against the devil himself!

Kyle Pratt (another exceptional character study by Jodie Foster) has just lost her husband in a seemingly accidental fall from the roof of their Berlin apartment building. Now grieving and alone with her six year old daughter in Germany, she is further burdened with the responsibility to accompany her husband’s remains back to the United States for burial.

Both mother and daughter are emotionally fragile, but the bond is strong as we watch them cling to what normalcy they have left. Little Julia (Marlene Lawston) is so scared to go outside to the waiting taxi and on to the airport, that she has to hide beneath her mother’s coat. A sweet depiction of how we are sheltered beneath the loving wings of the mother who knows our needs and puts them before her own heart.

The tension mounts as Kyle loses track of Julia while waiting at the ticket desk in an incredibly crowded Berlin airport. Reprimanding her and making sure Jules understands, without doubt, that she must never stray again. They make it onto the flight before any of the other passengers. When little Jules expresses her fear about the ice and snow clinging to the plane, Kyle soothes and assures her daughter by explaining what de-icing the plane is. Mom knows every inch of this in particular airbus, as she was working in Germany to complete it. Kyle Pratt is an expert propulsion engineer.

As mother and daughter settle in, Kyle breathes on the window as Jules traces a small heart. As her etching evaporates, Kyle comforts her daughter by whispering, “Just sleep and when we wake up we’ll be somewhere else.” After the emotional strife they have endured in the last week, to be somewhere else is undoubtably the subconscious dream of them both.

Three hours into the flight Kyle awakens to find her daughter has mysteriously disappeared. As she enlists the help of stewardesses and passengers alike in finding Jules, the moments become more and more intense, building up to the most unthinkable notion—Julia Pratt was never on board this plane from the beginning!

Captain Rich (Sean Bean from “The Lord of The Rings”) informs the near hysterical Kyle that Julia was not on the passenger manifest nor listed at the departure gate. Even after identifying that Kyle Pratt hasn’t even a boarding pass for her daughter, Captain Rich is still persuaded to conduct a complete search of the aircraft “nose to tail” for the nonexistent Jules. In the end, the horrifying news is reported from the German Hospital Kyle’s husband was taken to after his fatal plunge, that Julia Pratt was taken in that night too. David Pratt, it seems, took her with him when he jumped off that roof—they list her as having died of internal injuries!

Nearly out of control and under duress, the crew has no option but to assume the little girl has been imagined, “…we’re looking for a child that none of us believe was ever on board!” All believing this hallucination a defense mechanism sparked in the mind of a woman unable to deal with such devastating grief. Kyle is put under the care of the aircraft’s Air Marshall, Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) to make sure she doesn’t continue in her delusional quest to find a child that only exists in the mind of a despondent mother.

“Flight Plan” takes off from this point into the sky of captivating thriller as super mom, Kyle Pratt commences on a relentless search for the daughter she knows is real flesh and blood! Convinced there is more to her quest than just finding her daughter, Kyle concludes they are part of an elaborate plot to skyjack the plane, using her daughter as bait and her intimate knowledge of the aircraft. The trick is, getting the 425 terrified passengers, the Captain, crew, and the smug Air Marshall to believe her.

There are some pretty tense moments, so for younger kids PG-13 is to be taken seriously. Mom and Dad should accompany any children younger than 15. Some language is used sparingly: 2 sh*t and twice for “God da_n it.” There is a scene where the mother is hit and falls against a seat rendering her unconscious. Some blood and passengers pushing and yelling. There isn’t much violence considering the story line. This film is 99% emotional thrills.

Shown in the plot and characters in “Flight Plan” is the courage and tenacity of parenthood. To be a parent and to have lost a child in the store or in a crowd, I have no problem relating to Kyle Pratt’s determination to find her daughter. Christian parents may have one up on her, though, as we rely on God and answered prayer in times of trouble. As the Psalmist says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with surging.”

Tough, edgy, and frightening, “Flight Plan” keeps your attention as each minute elevates the audience to yet another level of stirring intrigue. A tight thriller, Jodie Foster keeps it all together until the truly explosive conclusion. What we applaud in her character is a woman who refuses to accept “calm down, let us guys take care of it” as an answer in a moment of crisis.

Not that this woman has strength that is hers alone, as we know our strength comes from God. Her character does set an example of Jesus’ relentless and fierce care for us and just how far he will go to rescue us from evil.

At times God will lead people to do things that are impossible to do in our own strength. But God will grant victory, step by step, through his strength within us. When God’s strength indwells us, nothing is an impossibility, but rather an absolute certainty. Pray we never discount what is possible with God (Phil. 4:13).

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Good suspense movie—with little objectionable content. I would recommend it for teenagers and above…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
B Bryant, age 45
Positive—Exciting movie! You feel as though you are on the plane yourself. Jodie Foster takes you along for this ride, and you feel her emotions.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Mae N., age 65
Positive—…a good thriller, and it’s a thriller with a heart. Jodie Foster is credible as the mother who is distraught when her daugher disappears from an airplane. The plot, as it unfolded, was a little bit predictable, but nevertheless, the action was suspenseful enough (with the main focus of the movie as the search for one’s child), to make me feel satisfied at the end. So go see it. Nothing morally objectionable. This is a nice movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Positive—…one of the best suspense-thriller films so far this year. You are kept on the edge of your seat the whole “trip” and then hit its you with the unexpected. “Flight Plan” is intense emotionally and plays on many people’s built-in prejudices and suspicions due to current events like Iraq and 9-11.

The deepest parts of the film deal with self doubt that plagues us all. This is especially true when peer pressure tells a loving mother that what she knows as truth or real (her daughter) is not really what is happening. Who do we trust? What everyone else says, or the truth we know? Kyle Pratt, driven by the unconditional love and self sacrifice of a loving mother is determined to find the horrible truth no matter what it leads to! “Flight Plan” has only a few expletives that are offensive and is worth the price of admission.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Marvin England, age 49
Positive—They used racial profiling on this movie which I did not like. But this movie was different then anything I have seen.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Terry, age 38
Positive—I wasn’t surprised to find out later that this movie is #1 at the box office. Jodie Foster is excellent. Pretty clean and still very suspenseful. You never know which way it’s going. I took my 15 year old daughter, and we loved it. Keep kids under 12 away, it could give them some nightmares, especially since the movie centers around a missing child. When you leave you will feel good and wonder why Hollywood can’t make more movies like this one. By supporting a movie like this we’ll hopefully see more of them!!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Pete Bakersfield, age 46
Positive—EXCELLENT! …This movie was wonderful! …This movie was not a dud but a #10+
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Barbara Williams, age 58
Neutral—I’m generally the first of my friends to hop onto the suspenseful thriller boat, especially when it’s PG-13. But in this case, I was highly disappointed in the film. I like movies that are at least somewhat believable, but “Flightplan” didn’t even come close. Jodie Foster was excellent in her role, but the script lacked character. Not to mention that the storyline is impossible. It could never happen, and the behavior of the flight crew is rather insulting to their real life counterparts everywhere. In most content situations, there’s nothing to complain about, so I guess that’s a plus.

I didn’t hate the movie, but I have no desire to give it a second viewing. This one is not going to end up on my shelf of DVDs.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Carissa Horton, age 21
Neutral—This was pretty much the worst movie I’ve seen in a while. The plot seemed to be lost, just like that little girl, but was never found again. If you like bad movies, see this one, it’s a stinker. I mean it was great to laugh at. It had dialogue like “Your husband didn’t fall off of the roof, he flew”.
My Ratings: Good / 1
Alex, age 19
Neutral—Well done, I think Jodie Foster deserves credit for her role, and to those critics who watched half the movie and wrote a review, I say watch all of the movie before you try to pan it off as a never should have been. …The move held my attention.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Michael, age 55
Neutral—…bored… It’s good, but not that great.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Elizabeth Lang, age 47
Neutral—I just finished watching this movie with my two teens. They were a little dissappointed, because they wanted more mystery and felt that the movie spent too much time on the main character being “crazy.” I felt the movie was fine and worth watching, but I was a little tired of Jodie Foster always allowed to run around on the plane.

Early on in the movie everyone felt she was a “nut-case,” but she was given a lot of free time to move and run around. So that made it too unbelievable. …It’s an okay rent in case you can’t find any of your other favorite movies on a Friday night. It does seem safe for Christians to watch, I didn’t find anything very offensive…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
S. D., age 41
Neutral—I agree with other reviewers on this site that the plot was somewhat absurd. It’s hard to believe that nobody would have seen her daughter. …Overall, it was a good flick, but nothing worth seeing twice.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
Jared White, age 24
Negative—Ok. I’ll be the guy with the dissenting opinion. I hated Flightplan. I wanted to walk out of the theater. Jodie Foster is an amazingly talented actress who usually chooses her movies very carefully and takes her time to wait for good scripts. That’s why I was initially concerned when I saw the Flightplan preview. I immediately said “it’s ‘Panic Room’ in a plane.” (I loved ‘Panic Room.’) But it looked like a good thriller and Jodi Foster’s acting is reason enough to see it, so off I went to the nearest multiplex.

Let me give you the positives: Jodi is brilliant, her daughter is good, and the captain is good. It’s all downhill from there. The script is laughable in many places, the directing seems to imitate “Panic Room” (but is not nearly as good), the passengers on the plane are simply stock characters (complete with a dumb, loudmouthed American guy who, of course, immediately suspects foul play with a group of Arabs and two annoying kids whose parents won’t discipline them)… and the whole idea behind the missing child (I won’t give it away) is just ridiculous. It couldn’t happen. It’s an affront to the audience’s intelligence.

This is a bad movie. Bad script, okay directing, but BRILLIANT Jodie Foster. If you’re a fan: go see it just to see her remarkable skill as an actress. But this movie’s a dud.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
Todd, age 32
Negative—…Jodie Foster’s acting was great, however I also agree that it is Panic Room on a plane. The movie had good potential, and even possibly believable. The stereotyped bratty kids, Arabs and “mob mentality” was very poorly acted. The squinty-eyed sky marshal was a horrible actor. Plenty of unbelievable lines in the story did NOT help at all. (I ALWAYS have to laugh at the villain who explains his WHOLE plan to the heroine/hero while about to kill her/him.)

There were way too many distracting LOUDER “hush hush… whisper whisper… SHE’S CRAZY” lines in noisy group settings. The final scene where she walks through the crowd of passengers was ridiculous, with people who minutes before wanted to crucify her now admiring her—“hush hush… whisper whisper… SHE NEVER GAVE UP… I told you I saw a little girl”. And the fact that NO ONE was tending to her UNCONSCIOUS, DRUGGED daughter with little panic from her mom was silly. …

We were at best happy to see little graphic violence, barely any bad language, no sexual content, and Jodie Foster was very good!

As I told my wife—mediocre Chinese dinner, mediocre movie—but GREAT company, made it a successful date night.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Stephen Hample, age 41
Negative—The film was well done for a suspenseful drama. Not a very good choice for a date night with your wife and mother of your children. I can’t imagine that it is entertainment for any mother to watch another woman go through what would be a hellish nightmare losing her child. Although the movie is well done and the acting very good, I question what one calls “entertainment.” It was troubling for me.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
Shar, age 40+
Negative—Foster was great as always, but I have to agree that the script was really dumb and very predictable. And I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t wrong about the 50 thousand. My friend told me he asked for 50 million, but I knew I had heard right. The fact that he only asks for 50 thousand makes the whole plot just absolutely laughable and unbelieveable. I liked “Panic Room,” but this one was a waste of time.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Maria Gottuso, age 36
Negative—When I saw the preview for this movie, I was not sure if it was a supernatural/psychological mind thriller or a thriller based in reality. It ended up being the latter, but it would have been more interesting had it been the former. The movie is predictable, and when the big twist is revealed, it is awfully disappointing. This is not to blame Jodie Foster, who seems to be channeling her role in the much better “Panic Room,” or Peter Sarsgaard who does the best with the role he was given. The movie is simply implausable given certain circumstances with plot holes so big you could see them from space. I am all for suspending belief if need be, but there are just times when something set in reality is so unrealistic it can’t be assumed true.

The movie is also very cliched and the script is terrible. I found myself laughing when Foster was avidly searching the plane, and the random bystander would say “She’s crazy” or “She never gave up.” The writers could have taken this script to deeper levels beyond what was presented for a more interesting and satisfying movie.
Overall, a movie that showed some promise yet ended in the most uninteresting way possible.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
Charles, age 21
Negative—There isn’t much to be offended by in this movie. The violence is minimal and not graphic; there is very mild language, and, as far as I remember, there is no sexual content. The main problem is that this is a really bad movie. The plot is actually a really good idea, but it is poorly written. There is one scene where it seems like the writers realized “Oh yeah. We need to explain what happened” so they literally have a character say, “okay, I’ll tell you what happened,” even though there is no reason for him to do that, and it is completely unprovoked.

There is also a sideplot (sort of) with two middle eastern men who Jodi Fosters character saw watching her in her hotel the night before the flight, but there is never any explanation of why they were doing that; they have nothing to do with the plot. Finally, if you can’t tell who the “bad guy” is within the first 30 minutes, you probably weren’t paying very good attention. If you are someone who doesn’t mind watching a bad film as long as there is little offensive material, then I could maybe recommend this movie, but otherwise, it’s pretty bad.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 1½
Adam, age 19
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a REALLY good movie for a family to watch with older kids (11 and up!). I was very pleased …that it had nothing “bad” in it; yes, there were a few swear words, but they were very mild. …if you would like to see a clean movie… go see this, or RED EYE!!…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Ashley, age 15
Positive—“Flightplan” was great. I know most people don’t take reviews from kids my age seriously, but take this one. It was a little scary though. I would recommend it for ages 12 and up. Only because of the scary scenes. Of course, that’s my opinion. It’s all up to the parents. But this movie was incredible!! It’s definitely worth the money!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Stephanie, age 12
Positive—I LOVED this movie. I went to see it with my mom, and I really enjoyed it. I heard it was a lot like “Panic Room,” but I think there was less swearing in Flightplan then in Panic Room. It keeps you guessing. I would recommend it to people 12 and up. Parents you be the judge, but I personally Loved it!!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Brooke, age 12
Positive—This movie was great! …really suspenseful and not predictable. It only had a few “bad words” in it, and everything else was positive. I really liked this movie!!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Bree, age 13
Positive—I loved this movie!…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Emily Reynolds, age 16
Positive—I loved the movie! It was great, with only a few bad words. Otherwise awesome.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Ileana Ortiz, age 13
Positive—This movie was amazing—from the plotline to the acting. It was so incredible! It felt so refreshing to watch a movie that was pretty clean. It’s not likely nowadays to see that. I cannot get over how great the character study was in this film. And to me, that is one of the most important things in a movie. I loved how it was mostly a mystery, also. It was very unpredictable! It was great.

I enjoyed seeing the intense love and strength the mother had through it all. She thought of nobody, but her daughter. And the love between her and her daughter made you want to cry because you saw Jesus’ love for us entirely. I reccomend this movie to anyone who wants to see a GOOD thriller and overall movie. But keeping in mind, there is a little bit of violence in this movie, so I highly suggest that the rating PG-13 be taken seriously and only people 13 and above see it.

But overall, GREAT film!! I wish there were more like this.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Amy Gibson, age 15
Positive—…Jodie Foster is the best. This probably would not have been a good movie without her. As far as I could tell, there was almost no questionable stuff, nothing at all “Occult” or sac-religious, and there was barely any bad language. It was the first “thriller” I ever watched, and I was very pleased with it. …I would not reccomend the movie for children under 11, but that’s just my opinion.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Stephen, age 12
Positive—Flightplan is a fast moving, tense, enjoyable thriller. Not overly scary, but definitely tense. Jodie Foster and Sean Bean are great. Peter Sarsgaard and the two ladies who played flight attendants are not great, but definitely good. The only downside is the half dozen SH and few GD’s included. There were a few instances of violence, but no worse than the most recent “Left Behind” film. Not worth buying because it’s not as thrilling when you know who the bad buy is, but definitely worth renting.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Geno, age 15
Movie Critics
…Ultimately what makes this picture fly is Foster…
Boston Globe, Wesley Morris
…a frightening thriller with an airtight plot…
Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert
…Keep your wallets in the locked and upright position: Flightplan is not worth the trip…
USA Today, Claudia Puig
…far-fetched but deliciously exciting…
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, William Arnold
…An in-flight melodrama with an unlikely plot and weak payoff…
The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt
…no less preposterous than the recent, similarly plane-bound affair, Red Eye. But it’s a lot less fun…
Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips
…Director Robert Schwentke, does a masterful job at making audiences feel that uncomfortable combination of jittery, sleepy, anxious, exhausted, and jumpy, while simultaneously making us care deeply for a grieving mother and her daughter.
Crosswalk, Lisa Rice

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