Smart young hotel exec Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is returning to her job in Miami on a delayed flight, seated next to Jackson (Cillian Murphy), a young man she met in the airport, who knows more about her than is normal. Jackson reveals the real reason he is on board: he is an operative in a plot to kill the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and Lisa is the key to its success, because the hotel where she works is the venue for the planned hit. If she refuses to cooperate, her father (Brian Cox) will be killed by an assassin awaiting a call from Jackson.
Review by Louise Keller:
Red Eye is a taut, terrific thriller - from its claustrophobic airplane setting to its smart script and compelling performances. Director Wes Craven uses all the elements at hand to engross and keep us on edge. It's simply a good set up, well executed. What a perfect contrast to have dimpled girl-next-door Rachel McAdams as sassy hotel executive Lisa, who finds herself trapped in a window seat onboard a plane to Miami, next to the intimidating gaze of Cillian Murphy's ice-cold killer, Jackson.
The script takes full advantage of the claustrophobic possibilities on board the plane, as Lisa struggles with her fear of flying before realising she has far greater problems with which to deal. The seemingly happy coincidence of being seated next to the initially pseudo-charming Jackson quickly becomes a nightmare, when Lisa discovers the real reason for his attentions. If she doesn't make the phone call he demands, changing the accommodation details of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, her father (Brian Cox) will become a target. There is nothing more terrifying than being alone in a crowd- surrounded by other passengers, yet unable to tell anyone of her plight.
The unsettling score highlights the tension, while elements such as mid-air turbulence results not only in a bumpy ride, but limits the use of in-flight phones. There are distractions from other passengers - the ageing, over-tanned blonde, the friendly matron, two backpacking teens and the eleven year old travelling for the first time.
There is a new notch of terror at every turn, and even when the plane lands, it isn't over yet. Assassins have good taste these days - there's one waiting in a silver BMW, a team of professionals about to blow up a hotel suite and a crazed Cillian Murphy with a manic look in his eye. Luckily, Lisa is cool as a cucumber and has a mean swing with a hockey stick.
There are a few shortfalls in the script, such as the flappy incompetence of the replacement hotel receptionist and the climax is a little melodramatic, but Red Eye has plenty going for it in escapist terms. We are never in doubt of the outcome, but it's fun being terrified for the flight.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Story to the fore, Red Eye is a great example of the power of old fashioned story telling on screen, especially when you have a team as sharp as this. Wes Craven has an instinct for working the fear factor, and the script - first produced screenplay for two young film school students from Southern Illinois University - is original and clever. And perfectly pitched at a tight running time; any longer and you'd wet your pants. Marco Beltrami's score drives the strong currents of the film's emotional plot, and the two editors, Stuart Levy, Patrick Lussier, set up a great sense of pace with tension, without sacrificing plot or character.
Starting with surprisingly laid back preliminaries to establish character and plot, the screenplay plays with us for a while so we get to understand Lisa (Rachel McAdams) as a very savvy young lady, with a father she loves. This is pertinent for later. But even here, we see signs of cinema smarts as the predictable is given such handy treatment that we enjoy the journey.
Rachel McAdams is terrific as the capable yet sensitive daughter/business executive, in a role that makes her a heroine in a what seems a totally natural swing from a male action star for a movie of this kind. Even her trainee assistant at the hotel gets a guernsey.
Cillian Murphy is suitably menacing, but this baddie is more complex and less cardboard cut-out than you might expect.
There's lots of great business in the intimate scenes on board the plane (all shot at a remarkable facility called Air Hollywood, the brainchild of film producer and film sales executive, Talaat Captan), and the double barrel climax is a great payoff. Slick, smart, and everything you want and expect from a Hollywood thriller.
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RED EYE (M)
CAST: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Tina Anderson
PRODUCER: Chris Bender, Marianne Maddalena
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
SCRIPT: Carl Ellsworth, Dan Foos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert D. Yeoman ASC
EDITOR: Stuart Levy, Patrick Lussier
MUSIC: Marco Beltrami
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bruce Alan Miller
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 1, 2005