[box cover]

Red Eye

If the ridiculous thriller Red Eye (2005) works — and it maybe just barely kind of does — it's because of the considerable charms of its two leads, Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. Hollywood's super-ingénue of the moment, McAdams made a splash as Owen Wilson's love interest in Wedding Crashers. In an increasingly disposable star system, she seems to be one of those rare modern starlets who might actually enjoy a long-term career. There's a playful intelligence behind her sideways glances — in Wedding Crashers, she always looked like she was letting Wilson (and us) in on a private joke — and she's already revealed a knack for rising above troubled material (The Notebook). And Red Eye, to be sure, is troubled. McAdams plays Lisa, a luxury-hotel manager taking an overnight flight to Florida from Texas, where she just attended her Grandma Henrietta's "cheap-wine funeral." She comes off a little meek to be running a place called the "Lux Atlantic," but she's in full sly-charm mode as she flirts with her seat-mate, the weirdly intense and subtly named Jack Rippner (Murphy). But right after takeoff, Jack does the first of many head-turns for dramatic effect as he lets Lisa in on a little secret: He's been following her for eight weeks. And unless she uses the sky-phone in her seat to change the room assignment of her high-profile hotel guest — putting him in easy view of an assassin's missile — Jack will make a phone call of his own and have Lisa's dad (Brian Cox) killed. Most high-concept thrillers, even good ones, tend to fall apart under analysis. But despite some fast-paced direction by Wes Craven, Red Eye finally gets so silly that it's practically popping wing-rivets. There are so many variables in Jack's plan that it seems he hasn't thought it through very well. Why is he talking so loudly in a crowded air cabin? Couldn't he have passed notes? If he tells Lisa that her dad's assassin "doesn't make a move unless I say so," what's stopping her from punching him in the throat and alerting an air marshal? Hitchcock might have had a ball with this idea in the days before everyone was terror-paranoid and armed with cell phones. But in the 21st century, everyone has to lose their carrier signals at inconvenient moments to keep the plot from grinding to a halt as it devolves into yet another running-and-falling Scream clone. And Craven also fails, repeatedly, to sweat the small stuff. The dialogue tends toward the trite ("Well, sometimes bad things happen to good people"), the film's opening is over-expository, and Lisa's passengers are so broadly stereotyped — and the innocent bystanders so bloody oblivious — that it comes across almost like Airport '75 with worse customer service. Still, when Craven sticks to their intense little tango, McAdams and Murphy keep this air disaster just lively enough to survive. DreamWorks presents Red Eye on DVD in a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary with director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena, and editor Patrick Lussier, the multipart documentaries "The Making of Red Eye" (55 min.) and "Wes Craven: A New Kind of Thriller" (39 min.), a gag reel (6 min.), and previews for other DreamWorks titles on DVD. Keep-case.
Mike Russell

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page