The Film: RED EYE (2005)
Written by Carl Ellsworth and Dan Foos
Directed by Wes Craven
Acted by Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox
The Premise: Wes Craven presents the story of a young woman named Lisa getting kidnapped on a red-eye routine flight. While no one on board notices her grim situation, her captor slowly forces her to assist in an assassination of a politician. Soon, time is running out, and Lisa has to quickly find a way to stop the terrorists.
Is It Good?: If it weren’t for a slightly corny assassination plot, Red Eye would have gone down as a suspense thriller that Hitchcock himself could have loved. The core aspect of having to outsmart a terrorist who is sitting right beside you is just great, and Craven mines a lot of tension out of it. He directs the shit ouf of the small space and makes Lisa’s ordeal as gripping as possible. Rachel McAdams believably plays the charismatic but obviously highly terrified woman who finds the strengh to rise to bravery, and Cillian Murphy who had just been seen as Scarecrow in Batman Begins makes for a amazingly slimy threat. You really don’t wanna fuck with this guy.
Gladly, the ways Lisa tries to handle her awful situation aren’t as goofy as similar practices we saw on the entertaining Non-Stop and the convoluted Flight Plan. She mostly just tries to get a message out, and the humble way it’s executed makes it rather believable. What Craven also dares is going for an uncomfortable sexual undertone. Early on, it seems as if Murphy’s stranger is truly hitting on her, and even after his reveal the creepy tone continues. In one scene Lisa enters a restroom to leave a warning on a mirror. The kidnapper follows her inside and makes it seem as if they’re doing it. Instead, he fondles her against her will and even chokes her. Lisa has a secret of her own (not The Crying Game), it’s just that it makes all of the sexual stuff that happens to her hit even harder.
As for the final act: I’m not going into spoilers, but what basically happens is a violent confrontation that looks like War of the Roses with more knives and guns. It’s a great escalation of everything that has happened before, and Craven obviously uses what he had learned on the Scream movies to make the cat-and-mouse game fun.
The only aspect that really weakens Red Eye is the way the terrorist plan to assassinate their target. It involves a boat and a motherfucking Javelin rocket launcher, and it’s just absolutely bonkers as a framing story to the close quarters duel of Lisa and her captor. The whole movie would be a lot better if they took all of those terrorist scenes out, never really showing their ridiculous plan. That’d be something for Casey Ryback or Jack Ryan, not a Lisa. Summing this up, Red Eye might not be a masterpiece like Scream or A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it’s a damn fine thriller.
Red-eye flights are called red-eye flights because they depart in the evening, thus causing red eyes for every passenger who can’t get to sleep.
Murphy wanted the role so badly that he flew from England to Hollywood two days prior to his wedding, just to convince Craven. Curiously, Craven got married while shooting this.
The studio had plans to cast Sean Penn and Robin Wright which would really have been odd due to the domestic violence tones of the story. At that point, Penn and Wright were married.
Cinematic Soulmates: Non-Stop, Flight Plan, War of the Roses