February 10, 2006
Wes Craven’s 20th film as a director is a calculated attempt to move away from his usual slasher fare and produce a real-time, psychological thriller. Red Eye is perfectly perfunctory featuring some above average performances but, ultimately, absurd plot twists, some dodgy FX and a serious case of déjà vu hinder the overall effect.
Mean Girls star Rachel McAdams plays Lisa, a hotel manager on her way back from Texas to Miami following her grandmother’s funeral. The flight is delayed and Lisa finds herself being charmed by handsome stranger Jackson (Murphy) over a drink in the airport bar.
Thinking nothing of this chance encounter Lisa is surprised to find herself sat next to Jackson once boarded. Not the biggest fan of flying, Lisa’s journey becomes even more nightmarish when it becomes apparent that Jackson is not the nice guy he seems.
Kidnapped and threatened with the imminent murder of her father (Brian Cox), Lisa becomes entwined in Jackson’s murderous plots. Craven engineers the entrapment of our heroine, cleverly utilising the enclosed metal tube to highlight the claustrophobic proximity of captive and captor. Lisa has nowhere to run and her attempts to signpost her danger to cabin crew & other passengers is met with swift & brutal punishment.
The first 70 minutes of Red Eye are taut and genuinely exciting. Craven wastes no time in establishing the scenario and both McAdams and Murphy convince and engage in equal measure. McAdams, in particular, is a real star in the making. Reminiscent of a young Nicole Kidman, if she continues to deliver performances as strong as this, Mean Girls and The Notebook, her career could take the same successful trajectory. Her steely determination, plucky resourcefulness and drop dead gorgeous looks carry the film through the increasingly implausible moments. Murphy, as he was in Batman Begins, is a menacing, icy cool presence although he falls a bit short when required to be physically aggressive given his slight frame.
The final 20 minutes descend into routine, predictability where our plucky heroine finds all manner of untapped strengths to ward off the gun-wielding killer chasing her. It always hard to stick with a film that requires us to suspend disbelief and go with the notion that a normal young woman can survive being thrown down a flight of stairs, use a gun and not just run for her life out the door and away from the maniac.
The sub-plot involving the assassination of a politician runs like an episode of Baywatch or MacGyver and is given no substance. The point, of course, is not to draw attention away from Lisa’s plight but something a little more developed would have added some much needed muscle to proceedings.
All in all this is a perfectly decent way to spend an hour or so without warranting very much attention.