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RED-EYE (R) (2005)


Official Site

Director: Wes Craven

Producers: Chris Bender, Marianne Maddalena

Written by: Carl Ellsworth, Dan Foos

Cast: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jack Scalia


Cillian Murphy is remarkably well cast for the role of a self-assured killer in the new Wes Craven film Red-Eye. He has the unnaturally relaxed face and cold blank stare of Christopher Walken, and the deeply smug voice of James Spader. The combination makes him a natural to play the heavy in any film. I expect his wonderful turn in Batman Begins, and now Red-Eye to be only the beginning for him.

As for the rest of the film, well let me say we’ve been here before. Strangers meet, a seemingly chance encounter, they hit it off, but one of them turns out to have rather sinister motives. Of course a thriller like this owes an enormous debt to Hitchcock, though a closer relative maybe the Johnny Depp vehicle Nick Of Time. Wearing its influences on its sleeves, makes it entirely fair to say that there’s nothing really original about Red-Eye, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Hollywood has always excelled at refining this kind of genre work.

The other star of the Red-Eye is Rachel McAdams, who like Murphy, is enjoying an auspicious summer, thanks to her role in Wedding Crashers. A Jennifer Garner doppelganger, she has the kind of poised, wholesome good looks that, combined with an almost sexless aura, will propel her toward a career of playing lawyers.

The film is ably directed by horror legend Wes Craven, the man who put the slasher genre to bed with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and woke it up with Scream. He has matured over the years into an effective craftsman (as, say, John Carpenter has not) and brings just the right touch of guignol to Red-Eye. That is, until the end.

Craven takes his time and nicely develops the early scenes, keeping things quite suspenseful until the inevitable revelation. Afterward the film, like its heroine, really doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s a testament to his skill that he can keep such a weak story interesting after we’ve already figured out how the film must end. Nothing that happens after the first 30 minutes is even slightly unpredictable, but it’s well executed, Craven makes nice use of his locations, and Murphy is always game. And for a while we in the audience have the illusion that we’re actually watching a good movie.

It’s not until end that the wheels come off. Then the threadbare plot is revealed for all its cheapness, and Craven is forced to engage in the kind of horribly clichéd hide-and-seek game with the killer that hasn’t been suspenseful since Jamie Lee Curtis and Mike Myers first danced in Halloween.

—Edward Rholes

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

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