If Someone Took Everything You Live For... How Far Would You Go To Get It Back?
Kyle Pratt's (Foster) life has taken a turn for the worse, when her husband David apparently kills himself from falling from a building. Returning the body from Berlin back to the USA, she and her daughter Julia embark on a flight aboard the new Aalto E-474 plane. Once on board, they get comfortable and Kyle falls asleep, but when she wakes up, Julia isn't in her seat. Figuring she's just gone walkabout, Kyle goes looking for her, but to no avail. Even worse, when asking the flight attendants and other passengers, no-one remembers seeing Julia onboard the plane. Now seemingly out of her mind, Kyle will have to rely on herself and her wits to unravel the mystery and save her daughter.
It's interesting that the back of the cover describes this movie as a “Hitchcock-like psychological thriller”. I suppose what it really means is that it keeps you guessing until the final act as it builds upon the tension slowly but surely. Now, initially it took me a little time to warm to this movie - it starts quite coldly, with Foster's character looking at the coffin and sealing it. We see little things that happen before the plane trip itself which seem unimportant at the time, but sow little seeds very well, provided you pay attention. An example is how she puts Julia to bed and looks out the window, then pulls the curtains shut - seemingly innocent enough, but it is referenced later on in the movie. The problem with this type of movie is that it is very hard to say much without giving away any plot points, which may or may not be important, it is definitely a movie that helps not knowing much going it to it. So excuse me while I skirt around the actual plot considerably.
This isn't the first movie I've seen recently based around an event happening 37,000 feet about the ground, indeed Wes Craven's Red Eye is the other movie I've viewed in the last week or so that is similar - but other than the plane element and plucky female heroines, that's the resemblance over. Here, we have a character that has suffered a great tragedy and is certainly undergoing one while on the plane, but it could easily be her own neurosis and psychological breakdown from the tragedy in believing one thing, especially when the odds are against her - no-one having seen her daughter does point to Kyle being a little, well, crazy. But the journey to find out the truth is one that is very tense and rewarding, provided you can get past the rather cold beginning.
Foster reprises a role not too dissimilar to her turn in Panic Room - another movie that people have drawn parallels with, but keep in mind that, in Panic Room, while it had a claustrophobic feel, we were never in any doubt about who the villains were or where it was going, whereas here, either of the two possibilities are probably and the movie keeps its cards to its chest, slowly revealing them as the movie progresses. However, her character is very similar, plucky and intelligent, seemingly very logical and almost calm one minute, even though the next minute she is very emotional about her daughter being missing, which to me doesn't quite feel right. If you're highly distraught, then logical behaviour and thinking would presumably go “out the window”, but not here. I can't comment from personal experience, but I don't believe a person under that form of duress would be perfectly rational in such circumstances. We even get treated to a nice post 9/11 scene that can be seen as a knowing wink to America, that it's not necessarily everyone from the Middle East that's a terrorist. Not sure if it was written to be ironic, but then, nothing screams “Red Herring” more that that scene in recent memory. That aside, there are some interesting turns from the supporting actors, Sean Bean as the Captain, Erika Christensen as Fiona the stewardess and Peter Sarsgaard as Carson - all well known actors, but are the roles they play important or not? Ahhh, I'm not saying a word.
So, a tense little thriller that takes time to warm up really. It's not terrible, neither is it exceptional. In fact you can either think of it as decidedly average or a mediocre showing, but it is certainly a brisk enough, entertaining hour and a half.