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Red Eye
2005 - PG-13 - 85 Mins.
Director: Wes Craven
Producer: Bonnie Curtis
Written By: Carl Ellsworth
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jack Scalia
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site:

Red eye to terror!
A charismatic cast pushes ‘Red Eye’ above standard B-movie fare. Wes Craven, the horror meister behind the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream’ movies, scores in the thriller genre with a movie that largely succeeds because of the appeal of its strong cast, current Hollywood It Girl, Rachel McAdams (‘The Notebook,’ ‘Mean Girls’), and Irish actor, Cillian Murphy (‘Batman Begins,’ ‘28 Days Later’), and because the story adroitly takes place on a turbulent flight from Dallas to Miami.

Like ‘Jaws’ scaring people from the water and ‘Psycho’ giving people shower phobias, ‘Red Eye’ takes place on a delayed flight from Dallas to Miami. With increasing security, slow check-in’s, cranky passengers and indifferent service, most people can identify with the built-in discomfort in ‘Red Eye.’ The setting of unhappy, uncomfortable and claustrophobic people in a packed flight is a key element to keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

Canadian actress McAdams stars as Lisa, a hotel manager who is on her way home to Miami. She doesn’t like to fly so she’s thrilled to meet Jackson, a charming young man with big blue eyes and an easy banter. But the flight quickly turns into a nightmare when Jackson turns out to be someone sinister. Lives are at stake, terrorism (the new boogeyman) is in the air, and Lisa has to be quick-witted to figure out how to survive and save the ones she loves.

Wes Craven seems to like stories with strong heroines and Lisa is in that mold, at first seemingly defenseless and demure, but able to draw strength from a bad past experience. While the jury and the box office is still out if McAdams will truly be the next major female star, she has chosen her roles well. Lisa is an interesting character of efficiency and vulnerability, and McAdams’ eyes convey that she’s thinking quickly for every possible angle of escape.

Likewise, Irish actor Cillian Murphy has moved from Irish indie flicks to more Hollywood roles. Slightly androgynous, one might think that he could hardly be menacing or a physical threat to anyone, but when he turns from ‘nice guy’ to ‘bad guy,’ it’s a chilling moment, made all the more dangerous when he makes his revelation in their cramped airplane seats.

Brian Cox has a smart if small role as Lisa’s dad. And 1980s TV heartthrob, Jack Scalia, rounds off the cast as the assistant secretary of Homeland Defense.

‘Red Eye’ sometimes feels like a low rent version of ‘Speed’ or 'Cellular' – Craven movies aren’t really known for dialogue or production values – but McAdams and Murphy sell their roles effectively. And speaking of ‘Psycho,’ there’s a nice homage to the shower scene.

Rumor has it that ‘Red Eye’ was rushed into the theaters to beat the similar Jodie Foster flick, ‘Flight Plan.' At a brief 85 minutes, the movie does seem to feel as if establishing shots were jettisoned. If ‘Die Hard on a Plane’ is the latest Hollywood trend, then kudos to Craven for putting together this tidy and highly entertaining thriller. It’s been a while since I’ve heard people squealing and screaming in the theaters as the tension builds, and I’ll probably be even more wary of plane travel! Add ‘Red Eye’ to the list of movies they won’t show on a flight.

Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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