Flightplan

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Flightplan Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Tense but riveting thriller, best for teens+.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Villains are tricky, authorities (the captain and flight attendants) are slow to pick up on villainy, and mother is admirably resolute throughout.

Violence

A father's suicide referenced at start; action picks up later including physical fights and a bomb ticking.

Sex

Brief flirtation between flight attendants.

Language

Tense arguments. A few uses of "s--t" as well as "hell" and "Goddamn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinks discussed by flight attendants.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the film's premise is a missing child, a timely topic but also potentially disturbing for younger viewers. The film focuses on the mother's panic when her 6-year-old daughter disappears midflight on an airbus, which offers up plenty of high-techy, brightly-lit space to be searched. The mother displays tears, fear, and rage at the crew, who question her sanity. There is an apparent suicide (the film includes discussion of a fall off a rooftop, and some flashbacks/dreams of the victim's last night alive). The movie also features some violence, as the mother fights crew members and an air marshal, as well as threats of a hijacking and a bomb on the plane. Most important, parents should know that the tension is frequently very taut; be aware of what your child might tolerate and understand.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove October 25, 2013

Joy ride for teens & adults!

Excellent movie! Jodie Foster is awesome as usual, great acting and very suspenseful story. Jodie plays Kyle who is a loving mother to her little 6 year old gir... Continue reading
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byTsion May 3, 2009

A Tense, Riveting Thriller...

FLIGHTPLAN would be a good thriller for teens and preteens who are eager to see more mature films but who aren't quite ready for the content. Jodie Foster... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBookTeen December 5, 2017

Intense and thrilling

Flightplan is a thrilling movie that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. There was not a lot of any questionable things, god dammit was spoken a few... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byThe Screen Ninja November 11, 2017

Thrilling

Very well made for the suspenseful aspect. I would have rated it 5 stars if not for the questions I had after and during the movie . Scary but not terrifying an... Continue reading

What's the story?

Newly widowed Kyle (Jodie Foster) is transporting the body of her husband back to the States aboard a giant airbus that Kyle helped to design. With her is their daughter, six-year-old Julia (Marlene Lawson). Both fall asleep early in the flight. Kyle wakes up a couple of hours into the flight to find Julia missing. Though she tries to approach crew members and Captain Rich (Sean Bean) with respect, she's increasingly unnerved by their suggestions that she's worrying needlessly, and then that the girl doesn't exist. As the crew and passengers are increasingly turning against Kyle, she fights to find Julia.

Is it any good?

As suddenly widowed mother and propulsion engineer Kyle Pratt, Foster provides a broad range of emotion. Practical-minded and self-contained in her grief, Kyle first appears in middream, walking with her dead husband through Berlin's snowy streets, wishing that she might stop him from ascending to their rooftop -- from which he fell or jumped. While it provides an apt showcase for the brilliant Jodie Foster and delivers effective tension in its early scenes, by the end, FLIGHTPLAN dissolves into clichés. But there are enough thrills to keep teens and adults interested.

But the movie never veers from Kyle's perspective, which means viewers believe her and suspect a plot. This is especially true when Air Marshal Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) comes up with some completely inappropriate niggling: "Your husband's death is starting to make a lot more sense to me -- a couple more hours and I'm ready to jump." Right. With outrageous motivation like that, you're ready for the silly plot turns that turn Kyle into Action Mom.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of Kyle's evolving distress: how is she sympathetic in her fear and anger? How does her briefly sketched relationship with her daughter Julia help to establish this sympathy, even when everyone else on the plane thinks she's lost her mind? And how does the film use racial profiling of "Arab" passengers (in Kyle and other passengers' accusations)? Is this reasonable or unreasonable under these circumstances?

Movie details

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