Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster and Peter Sarsgaard (Val Kilmer’s dopey sidekick in The Salton Sea), centers around a widowed mothers desperate struggle to find her lost daughter aboard a transcontinental flight.

Jodie Foster tends to freak me out. She’s been a 12 year old hooker in Taxi Driver and an alien communicator in Contact. She was incredible in The Accused (1988), although I thought her peak was the original Silence of the Lambs. Before seeing this movie I was wondering how this would compare to the best films of her career. Flightplan marks her return from a 3-year acting hiatus.

The film starts with a sobering shot of Foster staring into the camera, looking as pale and crazy as ever. The shot introduces the broken spirit of her character, mourning the loss of her late husband who left behind a loving wife and 6 year old child. They’re leaving Berlin and going to NYC to start a new life together.

Not long after departing, Klye Pratt (Foster) wakes from a short nap on the plane to find her daughter not where she was lying. This instantly sends her into super-panic mode, where she begins to search the plane as casually as she can manage. Foster does a tremendous job instantly raising the tension and pace of the film. What follows is a frenzied journey through the bowels of the worlds largest commercial airliner in search of the only thing that Kyle Pratt has to live for.

This could’ve really been done poorly if certain precautions weren’t made; and actually, some of them weren’t. The stress and tension created by the film in the first 45 minute is remarkable, but last half of the movie sadly fizzles. When the tension is prematurely diffused, the final 20 minutes of the film feel like an uneventful wait for the inevitable to happen.

8/10 for the 40 or so minutes of excellence