Flightplan (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jodie Foster, Sean Bean, Peter Sarsgaard, Erika Christensen
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, Featurette, Trailers

"Flightplan" is a movie that touches upon every parent's worst nightmare and as such is an incredible emotional and suspenseful film for everyone who has children of their own. It is also Jodie Fosters first major movie since "Panic Room, " and it shows yet again that the actress has not missed a beat, delivering another riveting powerhouse performance. But first things first.

After an accident that killed her husband, Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) and her six-year old daughter Julia accompany the body from Berlin to New York. Traveling on a top-modern airplane that Kyle helped design, they prepare themselves to return home when suddenly the child vanishes during the flight during one of Kyle's naps. Desperately the mother tries to find her missing child but there is not a trace. After a fruitless search of the passenger cabin, Kyle suggests searching the holds and storage closets but the Captain refuses as there are no records of the little girl ever having been onboard. She's not on the passenger manifest, no boarding pass has been issued and no one has seen her come aboard. In fact, records indicate that Julia died with her father. But despite all attempts to convince her that she's suffering from a trauma, Kyle is desperately determined to find her daughter, trying to find out what exactly is going on.

The film delivers 98 minutes of full-tilt suspense. It never lets up once the premise has been established and draws you into this weird world of desperation and desolation, 40,000 feet above the ground. As the story unfolds the viewer is constantly trying to figure out whether the girl has really gone missing or if it is all a fabrication of Kyle's tortured psyche. Jodie Foster delivers her part with such powerful determination that it is impossible to know. So, the film strings you along until the final moments when the pieces begin to fall in place and we realize the full scope of what really happened.

Supported by Sean Bean and Peter Sarsgaard, the movie's cast is a great asset to the production as each character is played to the hilt, turning the film into a realistic nightmare.

But apart from the mystery and suspense, the film also works on a purely emotional level. Quickly the film establishes an emotional connection between the viewer and Kyle and the tragedy that surrounds her life. Fully empathetic we can never help but feel for her, and when her little girl is missing on top of everything else, it does feel as if the whole world is falling apart. I felt my own adrenalin levels rise at that moment.
Sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes aching, the movie is never touchy-feely but honestly unrestrained in its emotions on an almost primal level.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment delivers a wonderful DVD for this film, featuring an anamorphic widescreen transfer in the movie's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is crystal clear without a hint of grain and entirely free of blemishes. An incredibly high level of detail marks the presentation and the wonderful color reproduction further adds to the spectacular look of this release. Blacks are deep and the good contrast makes sure the image is firmly rooted and also offers up clean highlights that never bloom. Skin tones are naturally rendered at all times and the rich bluish tones of the airplane's interiors and displays are wonderfully coming to life. No edge-enhancement is evident in the transfer and the compression is also flawless. In short, this is a reference transfer that convinces on all fronts.

The release features 5.1 channel Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks, as well as language tracks in English and Spanish. The audio presentation is balanced at all times and makes good use of the surround channels – sometimes for effects purposes, at others to create a rich ambiance with bustling noises all around to enhance the claustrophobic atmosphere.

As extras the DVD dishes out some interesting supplements as well, starting with a commentary track featuring director Robert Schwentke. The director is very candid in this commentary discussing in detail many of his decisions as well as the production aspects. He is very eloquent and does not shy away from a fairly technical in-depth discussion of the film, making for a very insightful commentary.

A five-part documentary about the making of the film is also included, covering various aspects, including the story, the director, the cast, post-production and the movie's visual effects. It is a well-crafted documentary that gives a good overall look at the production of the film.

Another featurette on the disc discusses the design of the aircraft used in the film. Though it is a fictional airplane, the featurette shows how things were based on current technology and aircraft designs as well as incorporating the break-throughs currently happening in aircraft design in planes such as the Airbus A380.

"Flightplan" has been repeatedly compared to Hitchcock's films and though it does not exactly look or feel like a Hitchcock film, I agree that the level of craftsmanship at which "Flightplan" operates is highly reminiscent of Hitchcock's best work. The emotional involvement of the viewer, the drama, the suspense, the suggestive camera work, the unpredictability, the conflict and how it evolves, all these elements are masterfully handled by director Schwentke, making "Flightplan" one of the best thrillers of recent memory. It is a movie that is perfect on virtually every level and weaves its movie magic from the first to the last frame. Highly recommended!