Between living in a foreign country and being a family man, I rarely get to see any movies while they're still "new". Back home in Canada, being footloose and fancy free and living the life of Riley, I used to go to the movies all the time. When I first started dating my wife here in Japan we regularly went to the movies. (I remember our first "date", actually. She took me to see Deep Impact, which was then a "new" movie in Japan. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd seen it several months earlier, in fact the day before I came to Japan.) Since our wedding, however, my wife and I have not even once gone to a movie together, and the last movie I saw in a theater was The Return of the King. (Shit, how long ago was that?) These days I don't usually get to see new movies until they come out on TV, which in Japan usually means about two years after they've finished in the theaters.
Anyway, I want to write a bit about a movie that I saw on TV recently, Flight Plan. It's not a new or recent movie.
I wouldn't call myself a fan of Jodie Foster's movies, but I will say that, generally speaking, I've liked most of the movies I've seen her in. I didn't much like Flight Plan. In fact, calling it an unmitigated turd would, in my estimation, be an expression of restrained subtlety. It's difficult to figure out where to begin, but let's start with the basic "suspenseful" premise that was used to dupe unsuspecting (i.e. "gullible") viewers into theaters: a woman's child goes "missing" on an airplane. Right. First of all, there's nothing particularly suspenseful about something that common sense tells us is impossible. People do not go missing on airplanes. Secondly, if Foster's character is somehow delusional (a possibility the script does its best to put forward), then she's just a crazy woman on a plane. This might hold some suspense for us, but it would be a different movie. To put it briefly, a missing child is suspenseful, a missing child on an airplane is impossible, a missing imaginary child on an airplane (or anywhere) is stupid.
Anyway, defying all logic, the child has, in fact, been kidnapped from under Kyle's (Foster) nose and secreted away somewhere on the airplane. Nobody, not one fucking person, on the plane sees or remembers a man going somewhere on the plane with a young girl in his arms. The man, the kidnapper, as it turns out, is a sky marshal. His accomplice is one of the flight attendants. It's all part of a complicated (i.e. stupidly elaborate and illogical), Rube-Goldberg-device-like plot to extort a large sum of money from the airline and leave Kyle as the (dead) patsy. You see, they killed Kyle's husband and somehow managed to get themselves on the same flight back to the states. Kyle is some kind of airplane engineer, so they know she'll know where to look for her daughter and would have the necessary skills to plant a bomb on the plane. They've bribed a funeral home operator to tell the pilot that Kyle's husband killed himself and their daughter so everyone will think Kyle is crazy. Do I need to go on? For fuck's sake, whatever happened to just sticking a gun in someone's face and saying "give me the money"?
Before we learn the identity of the kidnappers, there's an interesting moment when the plot tries to decoy us with some Arabs who happen to be on the plane. Kyle "remembers" seeing some Arabs "spying" on her. It must be the fucking Arabs! As we learn, however, it's not the Arabs (although, strangely, this movie would have made a lot more sense if it had been the Arabs, negative stereotypes notwithstanding). Having presented the not-bad-guys Arabs, however, this script can't even be bothered to muster some basic symmetry by having them, at some crucial point, help Foster's character. As for the actual bad guy, the sky marshal, at no point in the movie are we given even an inkling as to what motivates him. Is he unhappy with his pension plan? Was he beaten with a toy airplane when he was a child? Does being a sky marshal disqualify you from collecting air miles? We'll never know...
Is it just me, or does economy class on a "movie airplane" seem a lot more spacious?