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Bewildering Stories

Wes Craven, dir., Red Eye

film review by Chris Stires

Red Eye
Screenplay: Carl Ellsworth
Starring: Rachel McAdams,
Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox
Length: 1 h. 25 m.
Date: 2005
Fear Takes Flight

This film won’t ever be an in-flight movie. Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, Mean Girls) is young hotel manager Lisa Reisert. Lisa is taking the red-eye flight from Dallas to Miami after attending the funeral of her grandmother. After a brief flirtation (is it still called that?) at an airport lounge with a young man, Lisa is surprised and delighted to discover he is her seatmate on the flight. Jackson Rippner is played by Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Cold Mountain).

Soon after take-off, Lisa’s delight turns to terror and dread when Rippner gives her a wallet that belongs to Lisa’s father (Brian Cox The Bourne Supremacy, Rob Roy). Rippner is a professional assassin. His latest target is the deputy chief of Homeland Security. The deputy chief is staying at Lisa’s hotel with his family. Rippner’s demands are clear. Lisa will have the deputy chief moved to a different suite that makes assassination possible or he will have Lisa’s father murdered.

This movie works. It works because of the three main characters. Lisa and her father are very likeable characters and you want them to survive. Rippner is a bad guy who you want to see get his just reward. As for the deputy chief, well, he is a Hitchcock McGuffin and while he is important to the characters in the story he’s not the main focus.

The movie also works (okay, it’s over-the-top at the end) because of director Wes Craven (the Scream series, Nightmare on Elm Street) keeps a tight rein on the proceedings. Craven knows how to draw every drop of suspense out of every scene and he does. This movie will soon have a home in my personal DVD library. I even think the artwork with the male hand over the female hand is cool.

Trivia: Novice screenwriter Carl Ellsworth was the only writer to work on this script. He states he expected to be replaced at any time but wasn’t.

Copyright © 2007 by Chris Stires

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