Red Eye Wes Craven
Published Sep 01, 2005To paraphrase Corey Haim's License to Drive commentary: two of today's hottest stars, a gripping premise, what could possibly go wrong? Yes, on paper, Wes Craven's new thriller has everything going for it. You couldn't currently find hotter or fresher faces than Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers) and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins), and in Red Eye they do their jobs well.
McAdams is Lisa Reisert, a hotel manager who meets Murphy's Jackson Rippner (notice the name) in the airport while they wait for their delayed flight. The two strike up a friendship and sit next to each other on the flight, which is all part of Jackson's plan. Quickly he goes from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and informs Lisa that she must phone and change the reservation of a politician staying in her hotel - whom he is waiting to assassinate - or else her father (an unrecognisable Brian Cox) will be killed.
Set aboard an airplane for most of the film, Craven has constructed a claustrophobic yet effective site for the film's drama. Murphy, as he proved in Batman, can be a terrific villain when needed, with those piercing eyes and his nonchalant, torturous demeanour. McAdams is also the perfect victim - vulnerable yet strong and willing to fight back without crumbling to a whimpering mess. And yet the film fails to achieve a satisfactory closure. Once off the plane, a chase begins that ends up at Lisa's father's house, in a number of sequences that mirror Neve Campbell's struggles fighting off the killer in Scream. In fact, there are many similarities to Craven's 1996 hit slasher, such as the use of the heroine's father as bait, some witty quips and a haunted memory.
However, unlike that film there is no twist at the end, and as the credits roll you're left with deflated and anticlimactic impressions. With such an abrupt, fruitless end and a short running time (barely 80 minutes by my watch), it feels almost like Craven pulled the plug then and there to either catch a dinner reservation or because he simply ran out of money to continue.
Whatever the reason, the last five minutes of the film simply ruin a movie that, although lacking the potential to be something extraordinary, could have been more than another blemish on Craven's résumé. (DreamWorks/Universal)