RED EYE

(2005)
With Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jayma Mays, Jack Scalia
Directed by Wes Craven
Reviewed by JB

"Cross me again, and I'll eat more onions!"     The story of a young hotel manager who is forced to participate in an assassination plot, RED EYE  is a taut thriller directed by master of horror Wes Craven and starring two leads who always get work but should be more famous than they are. 

     For Rachel McAdams, RED EYE was just another in a quick series of films of 2004 and 2005 that displayed her versatility and ability to work in just about any genre. With major parts in MEAN GIRLS, THE NOTEBOOK and THE WEDDING CRASHERS, McAdams was a hot commodity in Hollywood at the time and Wes Craven was wise to cast her as Lisa, the young woman who had the unenviable task of having to help take down a Homeland Security big shot and his family or forfeit the life of her father.  McAdams has an "every woman" quality that allows her to submerge into a part - it took me about twenty minutes to realize that Lisa was played by the same woman who had played the queen teen in MEAN GIRLS.

     Similarly, Irish actor Cillian Murphy had established himself as an equally versatile performer with his parts in such films as 28 DAYS LATER, COLD MOUNTAIN and BATMAN BEGINS.  With his distinctive blue eyes and talent for underplaying parts, he was perfect in the villainous role of a fellow passenger on the "Red Eye" (last flight out) who is not what he seems to be.

     Carl Ellsworth's script may contain few memorable lines, but it is tight and to the point, wasting no scenes on anything that does not move the story forward.  Wes Craven, director of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and SCREAM films, also keeps things moving and manages to make the film visually appealing with tight closeups and overhead shots.  Notably, about one third of the film features little else but the two leads sitting next to each other on the plane and talking, with little action.  Yet, as this is where we learn of the strengths and weaknesses of both lead characters as well as all the details of the somewhat convoluted assassination plot, it remains interesting.

     RED EYE had a 26 million dollar budget and wound up doubling that at the box office in America alone.  With only one major special effects sequence, the emphasis is all on character and plot.  The assassination scheme might make you raise an eyebrow if you think about it too much (there's got to be easier ways of killing somebody that how they attempt it in this film), and the climax may reminds you a bit too much of Craven's SCREAM or a million other slasher/horror films (unarmed young woman in a house with psycho killer) but overall, RED EYE is a remarkably effective little thriller that even Hitchcock may have liked. In an era when many films routinely wander past the two hour mark, RED EYE clocks in at a fast-paced 85 minutes.  My kind of film! 3½ - JB

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