Retro Review: Red Eye

On the surface “Red Eye” seems like a routine thriller starring up-incomers in Hollywood vowing for a shot at the big time. But what makes “Red Eye” so special?

“The Notebook” heroine Rachel McAdams stars as Lisa Reisert, a hotel concierge who catches a late flight home after a funeral. Lisa is exhausted and bumps into an attractive stranger Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) in the airport who she also finds out will be sitting beside her on the flight. Lisa shakes it off as concidence.

As the flight begins, Rippner explains to Lisa that it isn’t a coincidence that he is on the flight with her. Rippner threatens that he has her father (Brian Cox) and if she doesn’t do as she is told her father will die. What does he want in exchange? What is Rippner’s real motive? And who names a terrorist Jackson Rippner?

When I found out Cillian Murphy’s terrorist’s name I was floored. Once again I was the victim of unimaginative screenwriting during the long summer movie season. At least this time I laughed.

But what makes “Red Eye” so engaging is the strong performance of Rachel McAdams. She is so good in the fear scenes, action sequences and insanely claustrophobic airplane scenario. You really could relate to this woman and the horror of being literally stuck in your seat until the plane lands. Come on, we all have had the annoying passenger who you get stuck with and have to politely put up with until the end of the flight. There is no where to back away to.

Murphy is capable as the film’s villain but I never found him capable or menacing enough to really strike fear into McAdams. The setting for the film is a little strange as well and director Wes Craven had to rely a lot on Murphy’s charisma and subtle menacing performance to ante up the horror elements. The problem is that Murphy doesn’t pull it off as well as needed.

I also noticed that the beginning of the film reminded me a lot of the old 1970’s classic disaster flick, “Airport”. The camera cascades around as we meet the passengers and there is an impending doom lurking in the background.

I liked the film marginally because of McAdams but for the most part the rest of the film is just your average every-day thriller. But even those don’t have a character named Jackson Rippner. I am still snickering.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

One thought on “Retro Review: Red Eye

  1. One of those movies that relies solely on the acting chops and charisma of the two leads. Very unpretentious movie and it’s nice to see that Craven keeps it going at a fast pace so we don’t have too much time to think. But yea… like you said, Rachel McAdams carried the load and she is the only reason this did not go straight to DVD.

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