For two smart, nerve-wracking acts, "Flightplan" is a thriller almost worthy of the tag "Hitchcockian," in which Jodie Foster plays a distraught mother whose forlorn 6-year-old girl has disappeared in the middle of an overnight flight from Berlin to New York.
Already an emotional wreck because her husband has just died -- his coffin is in the cargo hold -- when Kyle Pratt (Foster) wakes up three hours into the flight to discover her daughter gone from her side, she loses it. Frantically searching the state-of-the-art jumbo jet, she becomes so unruly that the passengers are put on edge, the captain is called, and an air marshal (Peter Sarsgaard) takes her into custody while the crew looks for the missing child.
But startling revelations soon emerge about the death of Kyle's husband and other seemingly indisputable plot particulars. The whole dynamic of the film, and your perception of this grief-stricken widow, soon shift wildly -- and more than once -- as director Robert Schwentke (a German making his Hollywood debut) deftly rolls mood, pacing and Foster's gut-wrenching, cracked-psyche performance into an atmosphere of incendiary tension.
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