One of my favorite performances of the year so far has to be Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins, he completely grasped the essence of evil and had me believing it the whole way, so to think that Murphy was teaming with one of the masters of horror in Wes Craven for a new thriller had me a bit giddy, then I saw the trailers.
The teaser trailer to Red Eye had me thinking I was getting involved with something evil, and by evil I mean Devil-style evil not just bad guy evil. Then came the official trailer, which featured fast driving cars, rocket launchers and foot chases… What? What happened? Where did the “red eye” go?
Well, as the second trailer points out this is far from the Wes Craven tales we have come to know such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream or even this year’s Cursed. This isn’t horror, this is a thriller and it’s executed well, at least to the point where you are intrigued throughout, yet it doesn’t knock your socks off.
The story begins as we meet Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) as she is returning home after mourning her recently deceased grandmother. The key to this story is not Lisa’s deceased family member, but her simple career as a senior hotel worker, cue Jackson Rippner played by the adept Cillian Murphy.
Murphy has a knack for creepy and as Jackson his goal is to play the suave and debonair mystery man to McAdams’ Lisa until he can layout his well thought out plan once the red eye flight to Miami gets in the air. You see, Rippner is a representative for a terrorist organization set out to assassinate Homeland Security director Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia) and Lisa’s pull at the Lux Atlantic hotel, one of Keefe’s regular stays while in Miami places her in the hot seat. Compiled with her fear of flying, the tension mounts further once she realizes her father’s (Brian Cox) life is also at stake.
Already being described as a throwback to Hitchcock and what might be his take on the 9/11 terrorist attacks I have to say Red Eye is getting a bit too much credit. While the film is good, and the claustrophobia driven first half of the flick builds tension as it takes place primarily on the plane, things change once the flight lands and things take to the streets. It is here the story seems to falter and become more like its predecessors as opposed to a unique thriller.
Considering the film has a running time of only 76 minutes the above complaint is only in reference to the final 30 minutes of the picture, and while the ending is un-original it isn’t lacking in suspense. Craven manages to keep you wondering what is around each and every corner while Rachel McAdams plays an excellent damsel in distress opposite Murphy’s menace.
Red Eye is far from perfection but in a year absent of any real suspense it is the closest thing to fear inducing we have up to this point so if a thrill is what you are out for, Red Eye may be your solution.