Red Eye

Ah, they don’t make ’em like this any more. Except, obviously, they do. In fact this kind of high concept (low budget?) thriller has been in vogue since the horrendously over-rated Phone Booth smashed at the US box office. Primary among these is the equally-missed opportunity Collateral. But, this kind of thing has an honourable history over the years. I’d put a lot of Hitchcock‘s work in the same bracket (particularly Strangers On A Train, Shadow Of A Doubt, I Confess, or even North By North-West). Even in recent years the likes of Johnny Depp‘s low budget blink-and-you’d-miss-it straight-to-video Nick Of Time. A much under-rated real time thriller. It’s that “you can’t tell, and anyway no-one will believe you” plot. So, although it may be current flavour of the month in the format stakes, Red Eye really comes from a solid tradition.

And, a fairly solid director. To be honest, normally anything with the name Wes Craven attached to it at all would be completely body-swerved by myself. I don’t do horror. (Yes, I am a big shiter. I’ve never got any further than the kid on the bike in The Shining.) But, seeing as this was a 12A, I reckoned I’d be quite safe.

Plot: Successful hotel manager Rachel McAdams (apparently hot property, although the only thing I’ve even heard of that she’s been in is Mean Girls – but, I never reckoned I was it’s target audience), meets charming is somewhat creepy (again, I don’t think I’m the target audience there) Cillian Murphy in an airport departure lounge. Hey, surprise! They’re next to each other on the plane. Hey! Bigger surprise! He’s holding her dad hostage and requires her help in assassinating someone staying at her hotel.

So that’s it; the set-up for what proves to be a taut (Carven really knows his tension and jump points) and economical thriller. Economical? Yes, as well as being low on cast and scenery (mostly taking place inside the plane, with the occasional line from Stewardess 1, Stewardess 2, Little Girl etc ) but it also chalks in at around the 80 minutes mark! When was the last time you went to see a hollywood movie that didn’t have at least ten minutes that shoulda been cut? It’s no classic, but that rare creature these days of a thriller that will actually put you on the edge of your seat (despite knowing how it’ll end, and just how many times they’ll have to kill him).

It’s not my way to get all Germaine Greer about these things, but following on from the likes of the Fantastic Four it’s actually quite nice to see something where the (this time genuinely) strong female character doesn’t have to flounce about near naked. Actually, and the fact that having a strong female lead isn’t treated as the selling point.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

13 September 2005 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Film

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