#249 - Feature: Flightplan is the Worst Movie Ever

8 minute read

Motto: careful with these links, they go to TVTropes.com - which you'll never leave

I have seen some pretty good movies lately (see the Top 5 for more on that), but today's post is wholly dedicated to a rant about one, truly bad movie. I'm using some resources to help here. TVTropes.com and the top review on IMDB are the two main ones.

The worst movie I have ever seen is the 2005 Jodie Foster thriller Flightplan. 

If you haven't seen it & don't care to hear my opinion or have seen it & liked it, this post isn't for you. If you saw it & hated it or you haven't seen it, but are curious how I could hate a movie enough to write this much about it, read on.

There will be spoilers... but I'm not spoiling anything good, so I don't think it counts. 

Rather than me explaning the premise, you should just watch this minute-and-a-half trailer:

Okay, so what have we got? An intelligently written thriller, right?


The main reason I hate Flightplan beyond any other terrible movie is that this movie isn't obviously terrible going in. In retrospect there are a couple of red flags in that trailer, but it's not oozing terribleness. I have seen Scary Movie 2-4, Epic Movie, Starship Troopers 2, Grown Ups, Paul Blart, and several other terrible movies... but I didn't expect anything from them. When those movies delivered nothing, I was okay with that. 

Flightplan is different. It has a big name actress, an genuinely interesting premise, a large-ish budget, decent production value, and a somewhat engaging first act. The movie starts to take a dump when you meet the Air Marshall. The script would like you to believe he's a righteous cop, so that it can really surprise you when it later reveals he was the bad guy all along! The problem is, they picked an actor who plainly looks like he's the villain. So the movie instantly becomes a waiting game until the big "reveal" later on. To add insult to injury, they use a couple of Middle Eastern guys as a red-herring, because, you know, 9/11.

When the movie does get around to the shocking revelation that the clearly evil guy is in fact evil, you also find out his evil plan to get $50 million. Allow me to outline some of the points upon which this master plan is completely dependent.

1. You find an American aeronautics engineer with a family (including a spouse and a child) working in a foreign country, with encyclopedic knowledge of a certain long-haul plane.
2. You can kill the spouse of said engineer in such a way that she will not become a suspect.
3. The dead spouse goes to a hospital with a mortuary whose susceptible to bribery.
4. The engineer decides NOT to cremate her spouse or have him buried there.
5. The engineer decides to fly her spouse's coffin back to America.
6. The engineer decides to fly on the same plane as her spouse's coffin, and to bring her child along.
7. That plane just so happens to be the exact plan the engineer helped design.
8. Your flight-attendant evil assistant and you (as the air marshal) can work this same flight.
9. Coffins aren't scanned for bombs? Is this a thing? Are you serious? So you put some bombs in that coffin, which is then locked and only the engineer knows the combination.
10. The engineer and her kid get on the plane first.
11. The engineer and her kid sit way back in the back of the plane.
12. There is nobody else around these two on the inaugural flight of this new type of aircraft.
13. This is critical - nobody sees the engineer's kid. So, you hope that she doesn't do anything to draw attention to herself, you know, like talk to anyone at all, make noise, or generally live.
14. The engineer and her kid decide to sleep... but not just sleep, sleep with some distance between them. The kid cannot have the window seat or be cuddling with her mom.
15. You can grab the kid without waking her up (or the mom). Also - you can abduct a child without other people in the plane seeing.
16. You can somehow delete the records of the kid getting on the plane.
17. You can grab the kid's boarding pass from her mom without waking her up.
18. You can smuggle this kid from the back of the plane to the front of the plane in a cart without alerting anyone, or waking the kid up.
19. You can get the kid into the front part of the plane, through a hatch and down into the nose without the kid waking up. Again - the kid cannot wake up at any point.
20. The engineer wakes up early enough in the flight to have enough time after she finds her kid missing to cause a panic in the plane and make everyone hate her. Also, she must go berserk or you won't be able to take control of the situation.
21. You can convince the captain that the woman is lying and get him to order you to contain her.
22. You can effectively make the woman question her own sanity, enough to cause her to break free to open her husband's casket to see his body and not that of... him and his daughter? In one casket?
23. The engineer willingly compromises a plane in-flight to allow herself to go to said casket.
24. Upon opening the husband's casket, not immediately finding the explosives.
25. That you can capture her immediately, without her re-locking the casket (which, again, only she knows the combination to).
26. You can leave the now-well-known threat to the plane alone as you return to the casket, get the explosives, arm them, and place them in the nose compartment next to the still somehow sleeping daughter without waking her up.
27. The woman, upon discovering one casket and not two, cannot convince the pilot or anyone else you aren't currently paying off to go check that there is, indeed, no little girl casket.
28. After telling the pilot that the engineer is actually a terrorist demanding $50 million, that the pilot will take your word for it and not want to talk to her.
29. That the money will actually get paid quick enough (and again, it will actually get paid without anyone talking to the supposed hijacker directly).
30. The explosives in the nose of the plane complete obliterate the (still sleeping) child and remove evidence of her ever existing.
31. You can kill the engineer/false plane hijacker and still keep the money.
32. Nobody involved in your intricate plan decides to talk or messes up.
33. Nobody NOT involved in your intricate plan blows your cover by doing something so outlandish as to talk to the attractive blonde lady or her kid.
34. (Going back a bit here) That the engineer and her kid don't have any friends or family that that go on the plane with them... or maybe that didn't go with them on the plane, but just knew that the kid wasn't actually dead.
35. Getting explosives into the coffin. Knowing which coffin was picked for the husband and then getting access to it to pack in explosives.
36. That you can do all this stuff, the kidnapping, the stealing something from a sleeping woman's pocket, the killing of an innocent man, despite looking like an obviously-guilty creepy guy, ALL completely unnoticed by the other apparently blind people on this plane.

There's a TV Trope called the Gambit Roulette. The movie Flightplan is by far and away the most egregious example of a Gambit Roulette I've ever seen in my life. If any one of those 36 things that the antagonist had no real control over DID NOT happen EXACTLY the way they did, his plan wouldn't have worked. It's the equivalent of going to Vegas and putting a dead body on double-zero in hopes of hitting a $50 million jackpot.

Actually, it's worse than that. That implies there's an equally likely chance of landing on any slot. The likelihood of nobody seeing or remembering the child, being able to kidnap the kid silently while remaining unseen, the mom waking up at the right time, the kid never waking up, the kid and mom deciding to get on the plane with the casket, the plane happening to be the exact one she helped design, AND her going crazy enough to make everyone hate her AND enough to have her actually OPEN the casket.... that's just ridiculous.

I think I've made my point.

Before I wrap this up, I should say that I'd be willing to look PAST all of this nonsense if the film had other redeeming qualities. Maybe it had good comic relief? Maybe it had an interesting subplot? Maybe it doesn't take itself deathly serious? Maybe it doesn't hinge entirely on the plane (and movie theater) being full of complete idiots? Flightplan had none of that.

Never before and never since have I been so completely, awesomely, jaw-droppingly, disappointed by a movie.

Flightplan is the worst movie ever.

Top 5: Movies I've Watched & Enjoyed Lately
5. Chef
4. Jurassic World
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
1. Inside Out - truly a great movie

"Are we there yet?"
- the little girl, upon waking up in her AFTER having inexplicably slept through being kidnapped, lowered into the nose of a plane, having a massive explosion denotanated 30 feet from her. It was at this point in time when the movie made me experience physical pain. -