A shining light in a relatively dim summer, "Red Eye" is the surprisingly good suspense thriller from Wes Craven, a man known for his horror films but not much outside of the genre. While "Red Eye" is much closer to the genre he helped create than, say, "Music of the Heart," it definitely is a film that will appeal to broader audiences.
Ranging in at 85 minutes, "Red Eye" is short, quick and to-the-point, but Craven never rushes things the way you'd expect from a movie that is shorter than most children's tales. In fact, the movie begins quite methodically, casually introducing us to several passengers in an airport that will all play a part in the events to follow. Even when nothing is happening there is a growing sense of tension, and things only pick up once the plane takes off and the terror begins.
The plot of the film is simple: a hotel manager (Rachel McAdams) returning home from her grandmother's funeral is confronted by an assassin (Cillian Murphy) who threatens to kill her father (Brian Cox) if she doesn't move an important diplomat to a more easily-accessible room in her hotel. A lot of things that could have gone wrong go right with this film, namely plausibility and screenplay. McAdams and Murphy are both proving themselves to be Hollywood stars, albeit underrated ones, so acting was never the problem, but a movie like this can suffer from lots of plot holes that can ruin everything. Thankfully, "Red Eye" has none of that (or very little), and Craven has made sitting on an airplane one of the most exciting events of the summer.
Though the third act is more action heavy, nothing too physical happens throughout much of the movie. Still, it is amazingly exciting and tense from beginning to end, mainly thanks to the leads. McAdams, though beautiful, can also act, and she delivers her character perfectly. Murphy, who last appeared as a villain in "Batman Begins," another high point of the summer, also plays a terrifying and heartless killer with ease. The best part is that the chemistry between the two is sizzling; every second they are talking the audience gets drawn into their situation.
"Red Eye" does falter just a little bit in the end as Craven falls back on the horror genre just a bit too much. While Murphy plays a very real and believable threat, he is treated somewhat like the stalker killer in a horror flick near the end of the film. In fact, several parts of the ending were reminiscent of "Scream."
"Red Eye" could have gone wrong in so many places, but it didn't. In fact, this little thriller is easily one of the best movies of the summer and will definitely be a purchase once it hits DVD.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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