With a combination of suspense and one of my favorite Hollywood actress’, it was inevitable that I’d see this thriller.
Red Eye (2005) Film Review
In her capacity as manager at one of Florida’s most prestigious hotels, Lisa (Rachel McAdams) deals with unreasonable customers. Returning home from her grandmother’s funeral in Texas, she discovers delays for her red eye flight. While waiting, a charismatic stranger strikes up conversation with her, inviting her to have a drink with him while they wait. Afraid of flying and having gone through a traumatic event in her past, Lisa isn’t too keen to allow herself to let a stranger charm her, but against her better judgment, she does.
Jackson (Cillian Murphy) buys her a drink, and after some harmless flirting, the two part ways only to discover they have seats next to each other. Once in the air, Lisa finds out she isn’t a random person Jackson singles out. Their meeting is no coincidence. Unwittingly, he pulls her into a political assassination plot that, without her cooperation, will sign the death warrant of her father (Brian Cox).
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As the title would suggest, the film takes place on a plane for a good thirty to forty minutes of the runtime that is surprisingly short, and because of this tight compacting, well paced. The unexpected seventy-some minute time it clocks in at keeps the script fresh, and without time to drag on, which otherwise would have become more of a snooze fest than a taunt thriller. The tight plot and well-written script might not be new, but it’s good craft nonetheless. Most movies wouldn’t do well with such limiting resources in this capacity to tell a story but this is actually helpful.
Shooting so much of the movie on a plane heightens the sense of impending danger. The transitions to Lisa’s hotel (the employee she talks to is, incidentally, hilarious) and her father time out well, and keep things from stalling out. Placing its victim and villain in such close quarters together changes the dynamics and makes everything more threatening. McAdams and Murphy are great in their respective roles. Murphy pulls off a charming persona; is he really just a man interested in a fellow passenger or are more sinister deeds in the works? His villain is one of the more chilling because of that allure. Similarly, McAdams turns in a great performance and leads us to cheer for her to triumph. These characters flesh out well despite the limiting time to set everything up.
I think I can say without reservation that Red Eye surprises me. It’s smart, doesn’t waste time getting to its story, but does use common clichés to further its plot. Still the cast is impressive. More unusual for my family is that my father actually got into the climax of this story. It puts you on the edge of your seat, wondering how it will end; we expect the worst and get a surprise when, in the last moments, there’s laughter instead of tears.
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You can find Red Eye (2005) digitally on Amazon Video
CONTENT: Several people receive threats; a woman is beat up. In a hand-to-hand battle climax, a man is stabbed, shot and a woman topples down stairs. An entire suite of rooms blows to smithereens. There is one f-word and a smattering of more commonplace profanity. The rating is PG13.