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Red Eye
cast: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Jayma Mays, and Brian Cox

director: Wes Craven

82 minutes (12) 2005 widescreen ratio 16:9
Universal DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Hotel manageress Lisa (Rachel McAdams) is getting the night plane back from a family funeral when handsome stranger Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) strikes up a conversation with her. She thinks it's coincidence that he's sitting next to her - but once the plane is in the air, he reveals that a politician is about to check into her hotel, and Rippner wants her to smooth the way for an assassination attempt. If she doesn't cooperate, a man is stationed outside her elderly father's house to kill him - and there certainly isn't any way off the plane...

Taking a hostage on board a plane, under the noses of the oblivious passengers. It's such a great story that it's amazing no one has ever tried it before. It's also a pity for that Wes Craven's anaemic, muddled attempt was the first to make it to the screen.

The film's first mistake is its attempt to cover all the angles at once. Rather than staying within the confines of the plane and racking up the claustrophobia, Craven cuts back and forth to the comedy and eventual drama of life at the hotel, and even to Brian Cox's wasted cameo as good old dad. Then, failing to learn the screenwriting lesson of Speed - 'when they get off the bus, the movie is over' - he lands the plane, lets the heroine off, and reverts to a clichéd chase around dad's house for the final scenes. Yawn.

That said, the central section on the plane musters some suspense, and the cuts to the hotel do allow for a great performance from Jayma Mays as Lisa's ditzy assistant. In the end, though, Red Eye's greatest flaw is its attempt at deeper meaning. And I apologise for the spoiler, but you just can't review this film without bringing this up...

We eventually discover that Lisa was raped by a stranger two years ago, and her life has been a mess ever since. Rippner taunts her that she's back in the clutches of a controlling male, and it's obvious she needs to win their battle of wits in order to get closure on her past. So does she defeat Rippner, mentally or physically? Nope. She ends up injured, hysterical, and in his power, and is only saved by the arrival of her big strong daddy with a gun. Forget the blatant anti-feminism; surely letting a peripheral character walk in and sort everything out for the heroine is just plain bad writing?

Red Eye has a few good moments, and McAdams and Murphy deliver good performances throughout, but you'd be better off renting Phone Booth or Collateral than this lacklustre homage.

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