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9 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Red Eye
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Bleeding On a Jet Plane"
4 stars

Wes Craven’s new thriller “Red-Eye” is another film that is driven entirely by the storytelling device that Alfred Hitchcock used to refer to as “kitchen logic.” As he described it, a film with kitchen logic was something that told a completely ridiculous and nonsensical story with so much speed, grace and style that viewers wouldn’t realize just how implausible it was until they got home from the theater and began mulling things over while looking for something to eat in the kitchen. Many of Hitchcock’s films utilized this approach quite successfully (“North by Northwest” is probably the best such example–the story doesn’t make any sense under analysis but you don’t notice for a second while you are watching it) but there is a danger in this kind of storytelling–if the filmmakers don’t pull everything off perfectly, the entire thing can collapse like a house of cards long before the end credits roll. .

Warning: since most of the pleasures of the film come from watching how the story unfolds, you might want to consider the remainder of this review a spoiler. It opens with an extended depiction of one of the most common of real-life horrors–trying to negotiate an airport in the era of Homeland Security. Lisa Reisert(Rachel McAdams) is a nervous flier who is catching a late-night plane back to Florida after her mother’s funeral. While standing in another endless line, she catches the eye of handsome fellow traveler Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy). During a series of delays, they run into each other a couple more times and even share a semi-flirtatious drink in the airport bar in a series of scenes that wouldn’t seem out of place in a typical romantic comedy. Finally, their flight is called and it turns out that the two are sitting together. After making it through the takeoff, Lisa is ready to relax with her seatmate until he cooly announces to her that things are not as they seem. He knows her name and he knows that she works as the manager of a fancy Miami hotel. He also knows that the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (Jack Scalia) is about to check in and he wants Lisa to call the hotel from the plane and change his room to one on a different floor. If she doesn’t, one of Jackson’s other associates is going to kill her father (Brian Cox)–for proof, he hands Lisa her father’s wallet.

From that point, “Red-Eye” switches gears into thriller mode as it revolves around Lisa trying to find a way out of her predicament while trapped in a plane 35,000 feet over the ground and with her tormentor sitting right next to her. This is not as easy as it sounds–events have already been manipulated in such a way that if Lisa tries to make a scene, she is going to look like the guilty party and it will seal her father’s fate. Circumstances force a delay in the call and she attempts to use that lull in order to outwit Jackson and quietly let someone know about her plight. Although he catches her attempts to signal others, he doesn’t count on her taking a far more direct approach to liberating herself. At this point, the film turns into a desperate race against time in which she struggles to prevent the murders of both the Deputy Secretary (along with his entire family) and her father.

In theory, “Red-Eye” should not work at all. While the premise of trying to prevent a murder while trapped on an airplane sounds like the neatest high-concept idea for a film since the exploding bus in “Speed,” there are so many potential problems that you can understand why no one had ever tried to tackle such a story before. For example, we have to believe that even though Jackson is directly threatening Lisa while sitting in the middle of a crowded coach section, no one sitting next to them is able to overhear their conversation. More importantly, it is obvious that nothing can really happen from an action standpoint until the plane gets on the ground and, as a result, the middle section is essentially an exercise in treading water until the story reaches that point.

Therefore, if a film like this is to work at all, it requires the services of the kind of skilled director who can distract you from those troubling plot holes with pure filmmaking style and in Wes Craven, “Red-Eye” has just the man for the job. Although his work hasn’t been properly acknowledged over the years–mostly because he has worked for the most part in horror films, a genre that never quite gets its critical due–Craven has developed into one of the more skilled and intriguing directors working today and “Red-Eye” gives him a chance to shine in a context where there are no distractions from bloody knives or razor-fingered psychos. The first third of the film, up to the point where the premise is finally revealed, is an effective example of lulling viewers into a state of complacency before throwing them for a loop and it also suggests that Craven has the skills to pull together a good romantic comedy if he were ever so inclined. As for the final section, it contains the most familiar material–races against time and shoot-outs and a deadly game of hide-and-seek with a killer throughout the interior of a rambling house–and while Craven is unable to transcend it (and after having seen him wittily deconstruct the killer-in-the-house conceit in the “Scream” movies, it is odd to see him attempting a straight-faced version of it here), he pulls it off in a quick and efficient manner that gets the job done.

The most impressive portion of “Red-Eye” is the middle plane-bound section. Craven is able to milk an enormous amount of suspense and intrigue with only two actors (McAdams and Murphy are both quite good in roles that could have easily been overwhelmed by the premise of the piece) and only one confined location without ever letting the strain show. Although this segment is smartly written (by Carl Ellsworth) and manages to play fair without stretching the bounds of credibility too far, Craven brings a couple of extra elements to the table that allow it to strike a deeper chord with viewers. One is the subtle way that he allows the premise to feed upon the primary reason of why so many people are afraid to fly–the complete loss of control that a passenger voluntarily gives up in regards to themselves and their surroundings the moment that they set foot on the plane.

Even more intriguing is the way that he paints both Lisa and Jackson as two sides of the same contemporary coin–both are in well-paying jobs in which they don’t really do anything other than take orders from people above them and then blindly pass those orders on to people underneath them. Jackson, of course, is completely comfortable with this, no matter what the human cost, but it is only when Lisa stops blindly following the orders of others and begins to think and act for herself that she has a chance to end the madness surrounding her and save lives–a notion slightly more politically radical than one might expect to find in a contemporary popcorn thriller and it gives “Re-Eye” the edge over the similarly implausible likes of “Phone Booth.”

“Red-Eye” is no masterpiece but it is a solid example of kitchen logic–it is gibberish but it is gibberish told with a lot of wit and style and at 85 minutes, it doesn’t last long enough to wear out its welcome

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12749&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/19/05 00:09:40
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User Comments

2/20/17 morris campbell tight & tense 4 stars
9/20/15 James Doesn't deserve a star. Waste of talent. 1 stars
10/01/12 Mike grant Terrible. I can't believe how stupid this film becomes at the end. 1 stars
6/19/12 Turd Ferguson Murphy is amazing, McAdams is gorgeous, the rest of the movie is a disaster 1 stars
10/07/10 LKim This crap deserves 2 stars at most, but I'm giving it 3 cause Murphy did incredible with it 3 stars
11/23/09 Albert Valentin Cillian Murphy is great in this! Very disturbing role and great movie! 5 stars
8/02/09 Rachel Wow..you never knew what to expect next! 5 stars
8/20/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 4 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap I'm giving it 2 stars cuz of suspense, But the story is bland and redundant. It sucks. 2 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday By itself, it was pretty good. Compared to Cursed, it was a masterpiece. 4 stars
2/10/07 MP Bartley It gets in, it gets out, it gets the job done with panache. Murphy is great. 4 stars
1/30/07 Matt Don't try and read too much into it. Instantly forgettable, but perfectly watchable. 4 stars
1/09/07 Anthony Feor It's like gravol before a plane flight 2 stars
10/02/06 bullit16 Best thing I can say about this? McAdams sure is pretty 2 stars
9/27/06 MMB We were very disappointed. Was pretty good until the plane landed, then got cheesy. 2 stars
8/27/06 Ryan_A Murphy's nice and creepy, and McAdams is good. The movie, not so much. 2 stars
8/25/06 Stanley Thai It's an average thriller with great acting. 3 stars
8/15/06 xxx A great thriller...I highly recommend it! 5 stars
6/01/06 Danny Very suspensful - I liked it a lot. 4 stars
5/30/06 Bryan McAllister one of the best movies ive seen in a long time 5 stars
4/04/06 Alison Not necessarily a scary movies...it's more like a thriller. I loved it. 5 stars
3/15/06 chris f very entertaining film 5 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Rachel McAdams is great, but the movie usually didnt work 3 stars
2/16/06 Indrid Cold Solid but uninspired. I think Craven's only good movie ever (Scream) was sort of a fluke. 3 stars
2/06/06 Anthony This movie was 1hr and 10 min and was boring 3 stars
2/04/06 Shawn Gadberry Sorry...Put me to sleep. Was this supposed to be a TV movie? Seemed like it was... 2 stars
2/01/06 Gary Mitchell Not bad....very entertaining! 4 stars
1/29/06 Zaharin Bin Abdul Razak Pretty much the same as "Nick of Time". So what's the point? 2 stars
1/19/06 Mike Pulido Predictable.over too quickly seemed like something was missing 3 stars
1/14/06 Quigley One can basically sum of this movie's awesomeness in two words: Cillian Murphy. 5 stars
1/14/06 Jeremy Fassler (the artist formerly known as JFas) This film was extremely overrated. Never had any suspense for me. 1 stars
1/12/06 Perry Mason idiotic, dull, witless thriller 1 stars
11/08/05 Priscilla Posthlethwaite Uncommonly original, tense thriller. More evidence of Rachel McAdams as a serious talent. 5 stars
10/25/05 Katie Evridge Red Eye is definatly a great thriller. 4 stars
10/17/05 Agent Sands Cillian Murphy steals---and saves---this otherwise dull thriller. 4 stars
10/07/05 Frenzy Ending was to HAPPY 3 stars
10/04/05 Naewar Loved it! Can't wait to see it again! 5 stars
9/25/05 Josh Standlee This movie kicks more ass than anyone could possibly imagine! Brilliant!!!! 5 stars
9/07/05 bentable just a great movie 5 stars
9/04/05 marge a real a hitchcock 4 stars
9/03/05 Quigley Cillian Murphy ruled so much! McAdams wasn't bad either. This movie is full of awesomeness. 5 stars
8/26/05 S Davis Wes Craven is back from that "Curses" mess. Outstanding performances...great plot. GREAT! 5 stars
8/25/05 ES A suspenseful, fun ride, McAdams gives her best performance, ending completely satisfies 4 stars
8/23/05 Brandy Harrington Check it out, this is better than Scream and Elm Street. 5 stars
8/22/05 Seymore great 5 stars
8/20/05 Hockeytown A heroine in heels wielding a field hockey stick? I miss the NHL SOOOO bad! 3 stars
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  19-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Jan-2006



Directed by
  Wes Craven

Written by
  Carl Ellsworth

  Rachel McAdams
  Cillian Murphy
  Brian Cox
  Jayma Mays
  Jack Scalia
  Colby Donaldson

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