Red Eye (2005) ** 1/2
Directed by Wes Craven; written by Carl Ellsworth, based on a story by Ellsworth & Dan Foos; photography, Robert Yeoman; editing, Patrick Lussier & Stuart Levy; music, Marco Beltrami; production design, Bruce Alan Miller; producers, Chris Bender & Marianne Maddalena. A DreamWorks release. 85 minutes. PG-13. CAST: Rachel McAdams (Lisa Reisert), Cillian Murphy (Jackson Rippner), Brian Cox (Joe Reisert), Jayma Mays (Cynthia), Jack Scalia (Charles Keefe), Beth Toussaint Coleman (Lydia Keefe).
Interesting Wes Craven movie is mostly unlike his usual horror ones. Lisa (McAdams) is the manager of a super-posh hotel in Miami. Returning from her grandmother’s funeral in Dallas, at the airport she and all other passengers face a mega-mess of a delayed flight. Confusion, protests and some ticket-holders’ bad manners reign. Lisa –who actually hates air-travel—comes to the defense of an innocent employee, and in turn faces intolerant passengers. A non-irate customer (Cillian Murphy) comes to her defense.
Later she and that man –first name “Jackson” --meet at an airport bar, and an presumably start of a flirtation feels like a “meeting cute” start of a relationship.
So far, so good. When finally the passengers board the packed plane’s tourist class (alias “steerage”) miraculously Lisa’s seat in the aisle is next to Jackson’s. (This goes against all logic but we accept it.) Before you know it, the man turns out to be—and proclaim he is-- a hired killer whose full and real name is Jackson Rippner . Ha ha! Get it? “Jack the Ripper.” Setting aside this bad joke, Jackson’s transformation from suave to totally ruthless assassin is chill-making – and a major addition to movie villains.
It takes little time for Jackson to reveal to Lisa who he really is—and that he has that he is a hired killer--and a job for her. The Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security is about to visit Miami, with retinue and family. He has a suite reserved in Lisa’s hotel. Lisa must phone in strict orders that the Secretary must be switched to another, specific suite. It does not take an Einstein to realize that the new suite will be blown up. If Lisa refuses to make that call, her father (in Miami) will be killed.
Now my description has reached the utter limit of plot-and-development revealing –something that the great Alfred Hitchcock rightly hated as spoiler of surprise and suspense. I can only state that both elements are maintained nicely –well, un-nicely too –by director Wes Craven. So are the sketchy but effective uses of the airplane, its claustrophobia, its well-conceived and shot bits of personel, stewards, passengers, etc. And, of course, the “duels” between Lisa (a very good Rachel McAdams in her first starring role) and a chill-making Jackson (Cillian Murphy.) Movie-maniacs note: this picture’s basics may remind you of the 1965 “Nick of Time” starring Johnny Depp, but in a more minimalist fashion.
So far, so good –and a change from the oft-used supernatural by director Wes Craven.But later, when Lisa tries to save the day, physically and grievously attacking Jackson, and the plane gets to Miami, and a chase gets going, and the anti-Deputy Secretary villains (vaguely Middle Eastern) get going in a big way, etc. etc. the story veers to ludicrous developments. In simple terms the movie goes from grade A creepy suspense stuff to grade C cliché action.