05/09/2005

RED EYE (craven haven)

i

The premise of Red Eye plays on the modern fear of flying and terror. The film manages to take an original (ish) plot and play with it for a while, before the final 30 minutes digresses into standard Wes Craven / slasher fair.

Jack Ripner (Cillian Murphy) is a seemingly flirtatious good guy, before his ridiculous name and real motive are revealed. Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) finds herself sat next to Ripner on a flight to Miami for the funeral of her grandmother. Firstly she is reassured by his calm demeanor, but when his real motives come to light, she realizes she is central to the plot to assassinate a US Politician (B Movie Jack Scalia), due to her status as Hotel Manager. (Who’d have thought it?)


The first hour contains a genuinely tense movement of move and counter move, contained within the carriage of a 747. The hero cannot run and the villain has a cage in the plane itself. As the overall plot would not bear up, to too much scrutiny, this tension is needed to drive the production forward. The claustrophobic situation is well pointed out by Craven, whose expertise as a director is thankfully supported by introverted camera angles.


The characterization that is usually missing in the standard cheap thrill film is pleasingly apparent, so plausibility seems enhanced by the reactionary performances from the leads. McAdams is precisely cast; attractive quick thinking and alert, Murphy is physically slight yet still manages to emanate the scare factor as the cool headed Terrorist.


Usually a plane landing is a relief to all involved but not in “Red Eye”. Upon touchdown the story quickly degenerates into the horror type-slasher fare that Craven felt he needed to lampoon in the Scream Trilogy. If the ending had more style and tension this could have been a truly superb film, but the formulaic finale means that we don’t have the ending, the excellent first two thirds deserve.

Don’t get me wrong….this is definitely worth watching although it’s not something that uses the cinema in the way it should have, particularly with such a good premise. It’s a well made film that would have been better suited as an HBO TV movie, and from Wes Craven you would have expected first class, rather than a business upgrade.

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