Airplane movies

For some reason on my flight to Turkey I was compelled to watch not one but two thrillers that take place on an airplane. I’m not sure my seatmates were altogether thrilled.

Flightplan is more-than-decent. Jodie Foster is excellent as a mom on the verge of hysteria having lost her child on a massive new airplane clearly modelled on the double-decker Airbus A380. I can’t think of when I’ve seen Foster in a role coming apart like that. The suspense is remarkable given the oft-voiced point in the movie “how can you lose a child on an airplane?” And there’s a twist that only Sept. 11 could give us.

No less surprising was Red Eye, Wes Craven’s slow extrication from the horror genre he’s so comfortable in. Yes, you can make a compelling movie two-thirds of which takes place between two people sitting in plane seats. It isn’t as clean as Flightplan, but it has its moments and Cillian Murphy is perfect as a charming seatmate psychopath. Wes Craven does a good job substituting the latent fear of dying because a madman killed you in your dreams with the post-9/11 fear that you never quite know who you are sitting next to on an airplane.

Of course none of this matters. The countdown is on for Snakes On A Plane . You think losing a child on an airplane is tough? How about getting away from several hundred snakes? Kudos to the studio for merging title and plot synopsis in one pithy phrase — a sure sign that this will be a winner.

Also a tip: if you are watching a movie on your laptop when dinner arrives and you have a backpack, just prop it up between your knees. Take the laptop off the tray table and rest it on the pack, stabilizing it with your knees. Watch, eat.