Film Review: Red Eye (2005)

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As the initial trauma of 9/11 began to subside, Hollywood found itself regaining its confidence in crafting thrillers set on airplanes, with terrorism becoming a recurring theme in these films. One such example of this newfound comfort zone can be found in the 2005 film Red Eye, directed by Wes Craven.

The plot begins in Dallas Love Field where the protagonist Lisa Reisert (played by Rachel McAdams), a young hotel manager who has attended grandmother’s funeral, who is catching red-eye flight to Miami in order to return home. Before the flight she meets charming Jackson Rippner (played by Cillian Murphy), who would, much to her surprise, be seated next to her on the plane. He reveals that this wasn’t an accident and that he is member of a terrorist organisation that wants to use her for assassination of Charles Keefe (played by Jack Scalia), the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Keefe and his family have checked room in hotel where Lisa works and she must arrange for him to be transferred to another room. If she doesn’t comply, Jackson threatens life of Lisa's father's Joe (played by Brian Cox). Lisa is determined to thwart terrorists’ plans, but she must find a way to do so without putting herself and her father in danger.

Craven, renowned known for his horror classics, ventured slightly outside his usual genre with Red Eye, which was released shortly after the disastrously received Cursed. The director's gamble paid off, with the film enjoying box office success and mostly positive reviews, temporarily reviving his career.

Craven's direction is particularly effective in the segments set on the plane, where the limited setting heightens the suspense, paranoia, and cat-and-mouse games between the two main characters. However, the film's success is largely due to its two leads. Rachel McAdams, at the height of her popularity, delivers a standout performance as the charming, vulnerable, and ultimately transformed action heroine. Cillian Murphy is even more impressive as the truly remarkable villain, using charm and psychological manipulation before revealing his true nature. This role helped establish Murphy in Hollywood as an actor specializing in villainous roles. Somewhat ironically Murphy later claimed that, despite himself having good time at the set, Red Eye wasn’t particularly good film,

Despite the film's strengths, it is easy to agree with Murphy's assessment. The main issue lies in Carl Ellsworth's poor script, which features too many tonal shifts, resulting in the film becoming three different movies crammed into less than an hour and a half. The first part plays like a parody of romantic comedies, the second is a proper thriller (the best part), and the third is a mindless action film where credibility falls apart, and plot holes and inconsistencies become too apparent.

While Red Eye is more than watchable due to its talented leads and competent direction, it fails to live up to its potential. It is understandable why it is not the first title that comes to mind when discussing Wes Craven's works.

RATING: 5/10 (++)

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It's an entertaining movie to watch, the best part is the second part as you say, all that psychological manipulation that the villain does and how he keeps you expectant of whether he will achieve his goal is very well handled there and then, well, then the power of the script reappeared haha 😂