Thursday, September 01, 2005

RED EYE: Tension At 30,000 Feet High



Time: 87 mins

Rating: ***

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opening 10 minutes of Red Eye
lulls us into thinking that we are watching a romantic movie.

Then, when director
Wes Craven starts to unravel the plot, he piles on the tension and creepiness so relentlessly that we can't help but be drawn into it...

The action starts at a Texas airport where Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) manages to snag a seat on the 'Red Eye' to Miami after her scheduled flight was cancelled due to bad weather. (Red Eye flights are those that take off between 2am and 6am).

As she relaxes with a drink at the airport bar, she gets into a nice chat with a suave guy named Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy).

Lisa, a hotel receptionist, is apparently attracted to Jackson and when she finds that he has the seat next to hers on the plane, who can blame her for thinking that romance is in the air?
However, while having a heart-to-heart talk with him after a bumpy take-off, she realises that the air turbulence they are facing is nothing compared to what she is about to endure.

They had not met by chance, definitely.

Jackson confesses that he is a terrorist and he needs Lisa's help to move a VIP guest (Jack Scalia as Charles Keefe, director of US Homeland Security) to another room at her hotel.

All she needs to do is to call her assistant, Cynthia (Jayma Mays) on the phone, to make the switch.

And if she does not do as he says, her father (Brian Cox) will be killed!

At best, this terrorist plot is flimsily-concocted (by screenwriter Carl Ellsworth) and it looks even more ridiculous when it is carried out.

However, the movie is not about the act of terror by an unnamed group; it is a classic damsel-in-distress gimmick set up mostly in the confines of an airplane. And when the plane lands, all hell breaks loose.

This B-movie works because the second-string leads have well-written roles to play and display their talents.

McAdams, who appeared in Mean Girls and the recent Wedding Crashers, is utterly convincing as the vulnerable-yet-gutsy Lisa. And with such great looks, she is definitely heading into Hollywood's A-List soon.

Murphy, last seen as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, is chilling as Jackson Rippner while newcomer Jayma Mays is marvelous as Lisa's wide-eyed assistant.

Director Craven, who is more famous for his horror thrillers, has cleverly broken the plot into an intriguing three-act set-up. The first two parts, at the airport and on the plane, are a protracted but engaging build-up but he justifies them with a taut, climactic ending.

This is how B-movie thrillers should be made.


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