Corpse Bride? Just Like Heaven? We compromised on Flightplan, a decent Jodie Foster thriller about a bereaved woman whose 6-year-old daughter apparently vanishes while on a flight from Berlin to New York. It has the techie attraction of taking place aboard a fictitious jumbo airliner, obviously modeled on the new Airbus A380 but designated in the film as the Aalto Air [the name of the airline] E-474, a more Boeing-like nomenclature. (And Jodie Foster is a ‘propulsion engineer’ [whose name is Pratt!], but she’s an American who’s been stationed in Europe.) The plane has two complete passenger decks, enough below-the-belt cargo space to sit a full-sized Mercedes in crossways amongst all the containers, and an improbably spacious Avionics pod below the nose, complete with a Cray-like monster computer, where the actors have their final confrontation. The movie’s official site has an elaborate flash tour of the plane, complete with floorplans.

If you wonder whether the little girl is real or a figment of her mother’s distraught imagination, or whether the girl is safe or not, you’re forgetting this is a Hollywood film. Still, the mystery of the missing girl is more-or-less cleverly solved, and the acting of the two leads is terrific. The ending reminded me just a bit of a now-obscure Jimmy Stewart film, No Highway in the Sky, in which he plays an absent-minded aeronautical engineer worried that the dangers of metal fatigue are being ignored. That one too, if I recall correctly, ends in Newfoundland, though a key difference between the films concerns which end of the plane suffers its ignominious fate…

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