Jodie Foster, mommy. How do you make a mommy freak out? Steal her child. Or endanger it. That sympathetic human heart-tugging at the plight of a child or woman or, better yet, both--this is the emotional landscape of this movie. It offers a few twists throughout that I hear they call plot, but really it's a character study in how realistically Foster can lose it while still keeping it together. Or, said differently, Foster playing that fine line where we question her character as to her sanity, not knowing if she's really insane or if she's simply a mommy who lost her little girl.
But, personally, I'm a little sick of getting my marionette heart tugged in this way, my string has grown to flexible and callous. Kill the fucking kid, already, just give me something besides Foster's (admittedly well-acted) panicked face to go on.
So, let's talk about the marvel of engineering that is this plane they are flying on. First, it's quite extraordinary that the airline apparently has enough money to buy a plane and not use all of its space. Put in sumptuous staircases, and open lounges (that terminate in the cockpit door, thus putting the drunkest passengers nearest the flightcrew). Why, it even has a cot for the pilot to rest in during those long flights. I wonder if he lives on board?
And then there's the avionics area, which appears to have an exploded Cray-2 super-computer in it (is this plane handling requests from thousands of users at one time? Is it crunching weather prediction data? Is it modeling the airflow over the wing in real time? Measuring the alcohol-to-soda ratio in every cocktail? I can see some novel uses for huge computers on board, but no practical ones), and a good football field of unused space in the nose cone. Hey, 45 passengers could fit in there if you knock out the super computer and fill it with seats. At an average international ticket price of around $1000, that would be $45,000 the airline could make through efficiency each flight.
And what's with all the Jefferies tubes everywhere? Do they call down to the engine room when they need more power? Does the crew crawl around in spaces large enough to fit luggage, people or duty-free goods that they can sell for a profit? Okay, I know that some liberties had to be taken because--let's face it--flying is boring. But, I prefer the other scary flight film I saw recently.
This film, though, it has a big problem, which I suspect is not seen as a big problem in Hollywood, where people care about the roller coaster but not about the rails it rides on. When all is said and done, the reasoning of what happened is so impractical. Okay, some SPOILERS here (and, I think it should be said that part of the success of this movie when it's working is not knowing what's happening or who to believe).
The problem is this: the plot to hijack the plane is so labyrinthian and detailed that the slightest thing could go wrong. Most criminal conspiracies are not built on tightwires, for a pretty good reason: it's too easy to fall. I would like to see a tricky plot in a movie like this that doesn't rely on an overly elaborate sequence of events that just happens to fall into place. The good con is the con where the characters are manipulated into doing what the conner wants without realizing it, and then having the realization wash over them as they understand they've been taken. The conner doesn't rely on human characteristics that are impossible to predict--such as Mommy falling asleep in a different seat than her daughter.
I think the film played it honestly, to be fair, and could have cheated more, but Hitchcock's movies always held up in retrospect. For this movie, which is being called Hitchcockian, I just want a little more in the end.Where we saw it: DVD | We deign to rate it: 54 outta 100