This brings me to Red Eye, a Wes Craven film very unlike most Wes Craven films. And it might just be the bridge old Wessy-poo needs for that gap between Scream 3 and Music of the Heart. Red Eye is the very interesting tale of a beautiful young career woman (Rachel McAdams' Lisa Reisert: she works harder than James Brown, okay?) who meets a charming young stranger on a plane (Cillian Murphy's Jackson Rippner), who turns out to be much, much more than he appears. From the moment they meet they've got that spark! You know, that invisible, yet tangible electricity that arcs to life between the eyes of young lovers with Chemistry? Yep, like any bad romance movie, they've got it.
But from the moment the plane takes off, Jack Rippner turns into a Monster, and the movie turns into something very different from the drama-tinged romance it appears to be at first. Before poor Lisa knows it, she finds not only her life in danger, but the lives of the passengers around her, and even that of her poor bothered father back home in Miami.
Dad's played by Brian Cox here because he has been in so few movies lately we just miss the hell out of him. He's quite good here in the detached filmed-my-scenes-in-one-day sort of cameo that we've gotten used to from Cox... and, of course, Gary Cole. At one point his character (Joe Reisert) falls asleep in front of the TV. Looked to me like Cox got tired of hanging around the set by himself and decided on a catnap.
But seriously, folks, the acting here is pretty good, with McAdams playing the realistically terrified Lisa to a T. Meanwhile, good old Cillian Murphy pulls in his usual great performance (though he's still never managed to get the British Aisles evicted from his American accent). Murphy's sliding from the friendly and charming stranger on a plane to the menacing Madcap Joker that he becomes is really something to see. He revels in his sinister game with the chilling smile of a boy holding his magnifying glass over an anthill on a sunny day.
Meanwhile, Wes Craven keeps the plot (by Carl Ellsworth and Dan Foos) going at the pace it requires, feeling taught and claustrophobic before an inevitable clincher. He dabbles in faceless action, romance, horror and suspense always keeping the audience on their toes, without ever resorting to a single supernatural element. Horror turns to a very real-world terror in Craven's airplane thriller, and he shows he still knows how to handle scary, realistic or not. This isn't your average Wes Craven flick, and it's exciting to watch him build this different kind of movie.
That is until the last quarter of the film at about the point that Craven starts to wonder how the hell he's going to end this thing and tie up these amazing loose ends. Just about right then, Red Eye devolves into your basic TV Movie of the Week, with complete illogic and nearly ridiculous and uncharacteristic choices that culminate in an "Oh. So?" sort of ending. After that, it's amazing how fast the finale turns into a Wes Craven film practically strip-mining the genre he helped to create, complete with the beautiful young woman running up the stairs in her provincial suburban home, with a rasping, badly damaged psychopath with a slasher's knife in boiling hot pursuit. Yep, the last few minutes feel a lot like the films that Craven distanced himself from with the first half. This was a better movie as a Hitchcockian mystery, miles above sea level, but even at its worst, Red Eye's not that bad!
In the "is that who I think that was?" category, check out the main Secret Service dude... It's Colby Donaldson from Survivor: The Australian Outback. Now who'd want to kill that guy? Come on, he gave Tina a million Bucks! I wonder how different this movie might have been if Keith Famie had gotten that role? The mind boggles... actually, no it doesn't. Three and One Half stars out of Five for Wes Craven's Red Eye! It's an engrossing, interesting thriller, and though it falls flat and misfires in the last few minutes, it's still worth the time to watch. Hell, have a few Sea Breezes in the bar afterward and you'll have red eyes too. Okay, kids, have a happy day, watch less reality TV, and I'll see you in the next reel... and that Next Reel will be called Flightplan!
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