Flying Blind Movie Review
A riveting performance by Helen McCrory holds our attention even if this dramatic thriller suffers from efficient but bland direction and a script that fails to dig very far beneath the surface. The role is a gift for any actress: a strong, intelligent and sexy middle-aged woman. And she's so good that she makes it worth seeing even when the plot becomes rather corny and implausible.
McCrory plays top British aerospace expert Frankie, who is relentlessly pursued by one of her students, the much-younger Algerian Kahil (Oudghiri). Her father (Cranham), a fellow aircraft expert, warns her against falling into a torrid romance, but she can't resist. And soon her colleagues are whispering behind her back that she may be compromising her work on military drone technology by sleeping with a Muslim. This of course puts her back up, but it also sparks some nagging doubts, so she begins to look into Kahil's story. And some irregularities make her wonder if he might be using her for information.
The way the film plays on our own prejudices and fears is very clever, using a hot current issue like military drones. And the plot races along so quickly that we barely have time to register that it's not actually holding water. Small problems (like the fact that a top military contractor wouldn't password-protect her laptop) multiply as the story progresses from a relatively superficial romance into more sinister suspicion and then an all-out political thriller. But since everything is based around suspicions and subterfuge, it begins to look a bit silly.
Even so, McCrory delivers a compelling performance that has strong echoes of how Judi Dench so adeptly conveys a combination of intelligence and emotion on screen. Even when the plot demands that she does something ridiculous, she sells it to us. But it's ultimately undermined by Klimkiewicz's simplistic TV-style direction and the under-developed script. Without much complexity in either the love story or the political intrigue, the film ultimately feels like there's nothing to it beyond an unusually strong female character at the centre.