Dealing with the tragic death of her husband, an aeronautic engineer (Jodie Foster) boards a flight from Berlin to New York with his body and their 6-year-old daughter. But the timid child, who is prone to wandering off, disappears mid-flight, and the crew tries to convince the anxious mother that she never had a daughter in the first place.
The non-sequential prologue confuses the viewer and suggests the bereaved widow is mentally unstable. Fast-paced, the screenplay doesn't get bogged down in rhetoric or tender moments.
As the desperate woman, Foster is perfect; indeed, her talent is so exceptional she elevates the rest of the cast, among them Erika Christensen as a stewardess, Sean Bean as the pilot, and Peter Sarsgaard as an Air Marshal. Each is suitably sceptical and begins to think she is "delusional".
Much like she did in the similarly-themed Panic Room (2002), Foster assumes a physical role as the story evolves into an action film. This allows her to race throughout the double-decker aircraft, making full use of the impressive set design.
Director Robert Schwentke's only flub is relying on slow motion a little too often, but his execution is otherwise polished. Unfortunately, one expects a much bigger climax after the build-up in tension, as the final act is rather empty.
Despite its predictable outcome, Flightplan is an engrossing psychological thriller that entertains from takeoff to landing. Rating: 7 out of 10.