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|“||You know, people will think what I tell them to think. That's how authority works.||„|
|~ Gene Carson|
Gene Carson is the hidden main antagonist in the 2005 film Flightplan.
He was portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard, who also portrays Hector Hammond.
Carson is an air marshal on board the same flight as aircraft engineer Kyle Pratt. He is in fact a hijacker and simply only wants $50 million, but he cunningly makes it seem as though Kyle is the hijacker as she knows the plane and therefore would be more credible to pin the blame on. Carson and his fellow conspirators had previously killed Kyle's husband by pushing him off a rooftop as it was believed that coffins are not x-rayed and would be a perfect place to hide the explosives and detonator. Kyle had boarded the plane with her daughter Julia and her husband's coffin in order to bury him on Long Island, as Carson planned. During the flight, Carson waits for Kyle to fall asleep before kidnapping Julia. When Kyle wakes up, she is startled to find that her daughter is missing. Carson secretly gets rid of all the records that Julia was ever on board the plane, including her boarding pass, and has his accomplice of the crew, Stephanie, pretend that Julia's name was not on the passenger manifest and search in avionics, where Julia has been placed and drugged. This makes the other passengers believe that Kyle is becoming delusional due to her husband's death. After Kyle becomes increasingly frustrated, Carson is asked by Captain Marcus Rich to handcuff her and keep guard.
The captain later receives word that Julia died along with her father, to which Kyle angrily protests. This was of course set up by Carson, as it is revealed that the morgue director is also a conspirator. Kyle later sneaks into the freight deck to search for Julia herself and opens her husband's coffin revealing that Julia is not inside. As planned, Carson finds her there (presumably with permission from the captain) and refuses to let Kyle close the coffin. He handcuffs her again and escorts her back to the cabin, but Kyle tries to convince him to let her search the plane one last time. Carson pretends he is going to talk with the captain but secretly returns to the freight deck to retrieve two explosives and a detonator hidden within the coffin of Kyle's husband. He then attaches the explosives to the platform above Julia before leaving.
Later, Carson informs the captain that Kyle is threatening to blow up the plane unless a plane is delivered (to escape), and that $50 million is to be transferred to a specific bank account (belonging to Carson, but believed to belong to Kyle) and demands the captain to transfer it, despite Carson claiming that Kyle refuses to negotiate. Since none of the crew believed Julia was ever on the flight, Carson convinces the captain that Kyle was using her as a ploy, allowing her to place explosives within the plane during her supposed search. It is then revealed to the audience during a conversation with Stephanie, that his plan is to let all of the passengers be let off the plane, kill Kyle, place the detonator in her hand, and blow up the plane to eliminate all evidence of Julia's body, and then leave the area on the requested plane plane. When Kyle attempts to speak to the captain, he tells her to drop the charade and that the money has been transferred. Kyle then realises she has been set up and immediately suspects Carson, and when the crew exit the plane after landing at Goose Bay Airport, Kyle forces Carson to stay on board with her, as she uses her advantage as a supposed hijacker. Knowing his cover will be blown if he refuses, he complies and threatens to blow up Julia if Kyle attempts to tell the captain that he is the hijacker. After the crew leaves, Carson is knocked out by a fire extinguisher before being handcuffed to a rail by Kyle. However, he quickly regains consciousness and uses a hidden gun to shoot at Kyle. She quickly escapes into the depths of the plane with Carson hot in pursuit, having freed himself from the handcuffs. Kyle soon ends up confronting Stephanie, who had stayed on board, about her actions and punches her, causing her to flee. Kyle eventually finds Julia in avionics and as Carson is stating how his authority as an air marshal made his plan work, and how no one would ever care about Julia, Kyle manages to trap Carson in the compartment by locking the door on him. As Carson attempts to fire at her and Julia, Kyle uses the detonator to set off the explosives, engulfing Carson in a huge fireball and ending his life.