September 17, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Red Eye

Red Eye
starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Cox
directed by Wes Craven
screenplay by Carl Ellsworth
Dreamworks Pictures (2005)

Here's a movie that played about like a modern day Hitchcock film. Heck, if someone were to tell me the screenplay for Red Eye had been discovered in the attic of the Hitchcock estate, I would be surprised. What did surprise me a little about the movie is that it's directed by Wes Craven, a writer/director responsible for Freddy Kruger, a guy I would not expect to helm as cerebral a film as this. My preconceptions of Craven were shattered when I saw this movie years ago.

Rachel McAdams plays a hotel manager with a fear of flying on a flight to her home in Miami. While waiting for her flight to board she meets a handsome stranger played by Cillian Murphy and is then pleasantly surprised to discover they are seated next to each other during the flight. Up to this point, the movie feels like it could be one of those insipid romantic films you find on Lifetime. Mercifully, it's a ruse on the audience and Murphy's character quickly lets his true colors show as he informs McAdam's character that he is an assassin set to kill the Homeland Security's Deputy Security who will be a guest at her hotel. He threatens to have an accomplice kill her father if she doesn't cooperate in aiding him access to the hotel so he can complete his mission. Despite his menacing nature, McAdams continually attempted to alerts others and prevent him from completing his task or following through on his threats.

There are a couple of moments that are infuriating in their defiance of logic, as is common in suspense films in the same vein as this. The kind of moments that provoke audience members to scream at the screen while the heroine does something mind-numbingly ineffectual. Overall, the menacing nature of Cillian Murphy is superb--and a far superior performance to his stint as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. The guy just oozes malevolence. Rachel McAdams by contrast is an ideal choice as a heroine with both a palpable fear and steely resolve to do the right thing.

The scenes on board the plane are probably the best part of the movie as that is where the tension feels the most genuine. It's in the moments after the plane lands and the impending climax unfolds that the film declines into the usual thwart-the-villain shenanigans with last minutes saves and false finishes. In fact, I'm a bit surprised that Wes Craven and the screenwriters didn't try to find a better way to have even more of the story unfold on board the plane. Ah well, the movie is still a highly enjoyable experience with strong performances from the main cast--honorable mention to Brian Cox as McAdams' father.

If you haven't seen this movie and you're the type who goes for those old Hitchcock movies like Vertigo and North by Northwest, I dare say you ought to give this one a go.


  1. One thing I liked in this film was McAdams' character's back story and how her resolve not to be a victim again affected her actions.

    And the sort-of admiration that Cillian Murphy's character had for her (up to a point it turns out) made him even more creepy.

  2. Yeah, her backstory really does well in establishing her tenacity through the latter half of the film.