Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Flightplan”

It’s time to fly the unfriendly skies with Jodie Foster in the 2005 thriller from Touchstone Pictures, Flightplan.

The Plot

Kyle Pratt and her daughter Julia are flying home from Berlin. They are bringing home the body of her husband to be buried in the USA. Having dealt with the trauma of his death, Kyle is anxious to get her daughter home to her parents so that they can begin to rebuild from their tragic loss.

Aboard AALTO Airlines, a plane which Kyle helped design, she drifts off to sleep only to awaken to the worst horror possible, Julia has disappeared. Panicked, she searches the plane with the help of an Air Marshall named Carson and the captain of the plane, but Julia is nowhere to be found.

As panic ensues, Kyle is confronted with the fact that no one else saw her daughter. Is Julia real? Has Kyle imagined all of this? The more Kyle Pratt searches for her daughter, the more Carson and the Captain think that Kyle has had a breakdown.

When Carson’s true motives are revealed and Kyle finds evidence that her daughter is on the plane, she alone must save Julia.

The Good

Jodie Foster is incredible. She plays Kyle Pratt well with a mixture of action hero/determined parent. Foster doesn’t overdue the hysteria when Julia disappears, and throughout most of the film, you believe everything that Kyle Pratt does because Jodie Foster instills her character with dignity. There are so many ways that Kyle Pratt could have been played in a hysterical manic way, which Foster does not do.

Sean Bean as the captain is perfect casting. He’s authoritative but blends that role with a compassionate undertone that could be lost with many other actors. Plus, it’s nice to see Sean Bean in a good guy role that doesn’t get him killed.

The Bad and the Ugly

The plot of the film is intriguing, but the multiple changes in the tone of the story is a little off putting. The movie starts off as a thriller on a plane, but then it’s a missing child story which transitions to a supernatural narrative (is Julia real, or did Kyle make her up), to finally a hostage situation. It feels like the overall focus of the story never decided what to make of itself. This confusion in tone is distracting and will derail the good will that the actors bring to their characters.

The death of Kyle Pratt’s husband is suspect at first and when we finally learn how this is all an elaborate scheme by the villain which targeted Pratt because of her work with the airline is a lot to take in. The fact that this crucial bit of information is a throwaway in a short bit of dialogue during the climax of the movie is wrong. I would rather have seen Kyle and Julia happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The complicated and complex conspiracy that is played out is never fully explained, which leaves viewers wondering why these events are happening.

Beyond the Film Facts

  • The movie was nominated for a few awards, but the biggest would have been Jodie Foster’s Best Actress nomination at the Saturn Awards.
  • The movie was reportedly supposed to star Sean Penn. The character name of Kyle was kept even after Foster signed on.
  • This was the film debut of Matt Bomer, who played Eric.
  • While the plane in the film is fictional, it bears a close resemblance to the Airbus A380-800 plane.
  • The Association of Professional Flight Attendants called for a boycott of the film. They disagreed with the portrayal of flight attendants in the movie. Watching the film, one can see why the association was unhappy.
  • The famous WILHELM SCREAM can be heard at the one hour and twenty-six-minute mark.
  • The original idea for the film involved a man on a business trip to Hong Kong and his son disappears mid flight.
  • Apparently the 300 passengers on the plane were all picked through auditions by the director himself.

The Streamy Award

{Watch on your phone (1) Watch on a tablet (2) Perfect travel entertainment (3) Best at home with the biggest screen (4)}

Leonard Maltin’s description of Flightplan is the best way to describe the film. It starts off suspenseful and builds until it turns ridiculous near the climax of the film.

I saw the movie in theatres when it came out, and while I enjoyed it at the time, there were holes in the story that left a bad taste in my mouth. The acting is supreme, but the story is a little far fetched and overdone that makes the audience lose interest throughout the film.

Flightplan is an okay movie, that gets a “Level 1 Streamy Award.” Are you a user of public transportation daily? Then download Flightplan to fill your time. That’s about all the attention you need to give to the movie.

Cast and Crew

  • Jodie Foster as Kyle Pratt
  • Peter Sarsgaard as Carson
  • Sean Bean as Captain Rich
  • Kate Beahan as Stephanie

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Imagine Entertainment  

Release Date: September 23, 2005

Budget: $55 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $89,707,299

Worldwide Total: $223,387,299

Coming Soon

Next week we step back in time to the 1992 thriller, Consenting Adults.