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Red Eye Review

By Shawn McKenzie 08/19/2005

I hadn’t seen Cursed from earlier this year, but otherwise, horror-master Wes Craven has been fairly dormant since completing the Scream trilogy.  We all knew that he could do horror…but can he do a thriller?  Even worse…can it be entertaining with a PG-13 rating?  With Red Eye, he has proven that he can.

Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is a woman who hates to fly.  She is a manager at the Lux Atlantic Hotel in Miami, and she is going home after being at her 91-year-old grandmother Henrietta’s funeral in Dallas.  On the cab ride on the way to the airport, she checks in with her assistant Cynthia (Jayma Mays) to see if everything is okay for the family of the new Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.  Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia), his wife Lydia (Beth Toussaint Coleman), and their two kids Danny (Adam Gobble) and Sarah (Megan Crawford), are staying in the Lux Atlantic, and Lisa wants Cynthia to make sure that everything goes smoothly during their stay.  After the flustered assistant deals with Bob (Robert Pine) and Marianne Taylor (Teresa Press-Marx), a couple of regulars to the hotel who think that Cynthia should be fired, she assures Lisa that Keefe’s stay will be fine.  Lisa checks in at the ticket counter, and she meets a handsome man in line named Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy.)  Her flight on Fresh Air Airlines is delayed, so she goes to the airport bar to have a Bay Breeze to calm her nerves.  Jackson ends up going to the same bar, and the two talk about their lives while waiting for the plane to arrive.  She finds out that he prefers to go by Jackson instead of Jack because it is too close to the famous British serial killer Jack the Ripper.  He finds out about her grandmother and that her retired dad Joe (Brian Cox) divorced her mom three years ago after 32 years of marriage.  Finally, the plane is ready, and they board.  She enters the plane with a nice lady (Angela Paton) she had met in the checkout line who loves Dr. Phil, a teenager (Max Kasch) with headphones on and his brother (Kyle Gallner), and a cute little blonde girl named Rebecca (Brittany Oaks) with her mother (Tina Anderson.)  She sits in seat 18G, and the seat next to her, 18F, is none other than Jackson.  While taking off, he calms Lisa’s nerves by talking more about her family.  As soon as the plane reaches cruising altitude, Jackson tells her the real reason why he is interested in her…he wants to use her influence at the Lux Atlantic to have Keefe’s room changed to another specific room.  It turns out that Jackson is a paid assassin hired to kill Keefe and his whole family.  If Lisa doesn’t have Keefe moved to another room, then a hitman (Dane Farwell) parked outside of Joe’s house will kill him.  Not wanting to kill either Keefe or her dad, she tries to find anyway that she can to escape from the plane, which is currently flying at 30,000 feet.

Without the absence of the gore that Craven is famous for, this movie manages to be thrilling despite of it.  It is short, but the tension is there.  He may not be able to do an interesting drama, like 1999’s sub par Music of the Heart, but he has proven that he can do a thriller without a scarred, razor-fingernailed serial killer who stalks you in your dreams or a ghost-faced killer who makes fun of horror clichés.

The two leads are great here.  McAdams is on a role with her career.  She took off with last year’s excellent Mean Girls, then had a hit with the awful chick flick The Notebook (I’ve forgiven her for that already), and finally she was the female lead in this year’s hilarious Wedding Crashers.  Her range is great, so I’m looking forward to seeing her next project.  Murphy is cursed with those strange looking eyes that will probably land him many bad guy roles (like this year’s Batman Begins), but he is a good actor, and those eyes are going to take him all the way to the bank.  As for the rest of the cast…they did their jobs fine.  Mays is memorable as the assistant.  This is her first role, so I’m curious to see what else she can do.  Cox is okay, but his part is so short that he is wasted (also, I’ve noticed that he has lost a lot of weight.  Is he sick?)

Red Eye is a breath of fresh air in a sea of remakes and comic book movies this year.  For those who have short attention spans, the small length will be pleasing (I’m one of those types that suffers from that occasionally, and this movie is a welcome break.)  I will admit that the end goes into cheeseland (are all hotel managers trained with fighting skills?), but the movie is a fun one, and I can’t wait to see what Craven does next.


Ratings System:


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