Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Red Eye (2005)
Wes Craven has had a strange career. He’s made some of the most iconic horror films of the modern era, but in between the Scream and Nightmare efforts he’s padded his CV with what can only be described as utterly blah movies. Red Eye is one of the latter, and nobody in their right mind is ever going to claim this as a classic. However, by the same score, it’s not at all worth me destroying being a totally mundane and inoffensive way to pass the time. Just not a particularly interesting one.
Contains a seriously struggling reviewer and minor spoilers below.
God damn it, I hate reviewing this type of film, because I have literally nothing of any interest to man or beast to say. The premise isn’t strong enough to support the run time for one thing, and so what we have here is a reasonably performed, vaguely interesting half an hour TV show spread out over 90 minutes. Red Eye is one of the slightest films around, and I would honestly love to know why this flimsy little idea was chosen for a full feature length.
Red Eye works as follows: Rachel McAdams plays Lisa. Lisa is, apparently, a very important person indeed being as she is a relief hotel manager. Crippled with a fear of flying, Lisa is forced to take the Red Eye back to Miami to supervise the director of something or other (Jack Scalia) checking in to her hotel. Panicking in the queue, she’s chatted up by debonair Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), and don’t groan about the name because the film makes a joke of it. He’s all charming and whatnot and sweeps her off her feet. Except it turns out that he’s an international terrorist with a plan to assassinate the Director. He needs Lisa to book the big wig into a room facing the ocean so he can hit it with a rocket launcher. To coerce her into doing it, he threatens her old father (Brian Cox) with a hitman and does things like nut her into unconsciousness when she’s trying to escape. Eventually, she does manage to escape and save the day.
I don’t really do this very often, but I’m going to here. All I’ve got to talk about is the sheer dimwittedness of Rippner’s plan. Why does it matter what room she’s putting the VIP in? Because last time I checked, you don’t need to be on a boat to fire a rocket launcher. They do talk about it being difficult to hit from the land, but it can’t be harder than grabbing a random stranger, making her change a room, threatening her dad, then trying to hit a precise room from a little boat bobbing up and down in the Atlantic. This plan is so contrived, and so ridiculous that it quite clearly only exists to further the “tension” over whether she will or won’t make the call from the plane. Furthermore, why does he need her to change the room? He’s an international terrorist with significant resources, would it be beyond him to start a fire in the intended room, or flood it or do something to make it uninhabitable?
Leaving aside that Rippner is probably the stupidest terrorist in the history of international terrorism, sort of a Carlos the Dumbass, Murphy does make the best of a bad job. He’s very oleaginous when we first meet him, and his slimy charm goes a long way to making the first half of the film work. The latter half struggles more, because he isn’t a huge physical threat, but he does at least appear to be capable of murdering people and random acts of sadism. McAdams is, again, ok in the lead, but the film strives to make her a strong and assertive woman, whereas what she appears to be, to this uneducated viewer, is a pigheaded cow. Making her just a relief hotel manager simply doesn’t work for this kind of film, she needed to be something on the Directors team, to have some kind of capability and training, because I couldn’t buy that she’d be so devoted to annoying Rippner by putting soap all over the shitter’s mirror and other acts of stupidity.
Nevertheless, the leads are trying hard, and the film has a certain level of polish. While individual scenes can generate some tension- notably the phone call when in a storm, these mini set pieces are more effective taken out of the context of his plan. Craven is a seasoned director, particularly with tension, so manages to wring as much out of the film as he can and he’s aided by a reasonably effective score provided by Marco Beltrami.
That’s it. I’ve nothing else to say about Red Eye. It’s an OK film that’s stretched beyond its limit with a completely stupid central plot. The acting is fine, as is everything else, but well, if ever there was a film that is completely and utterly meh and totally failing to set the world alight this one is it. Red Eye can have two stylised Red Eyes out of a possible 4, and I never even want to think about reviewing a film as utterly unremarkable as this one again. Basically, this is the cinematic equivalent of being stuck on a red eye flight: it will get there, but that’s all you will ever say about it.
Next up is the swear word laden review of the utterly awful Dead Clowns.
So until then,
The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux:
- 2011- The Skin I Live In (2.5 out of 4)
- 2010- The Last Exorcism (2.5 out of 4)
- 2009- Post Grad (1 out of 4)
- 2008- The House Bunny (1 out of 4)
- 2007- Knocked Up (1 out of 4)
- 2006- Volver (1 out of 4)
- 2005- Red Eye (2 out of 4)
- 2004- Dead Clowns
- 2003- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
- 2002- Talk to Her
- 2001- Jeeper’s Creepers
- 2000- Gossip
- 1999- All About My Mother
- 1998- The X-Files
- 1997- Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
- 1996- The Last Supper
- 1995- The Usual Suspects
- 1994- The Color of Night
- 1993- Surf Ninjas
- 1992- The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag
- 1991- Pump Up the Volume
- 1990- Wild at Heart
- 1989- Bull Durham
- 1988- Crossing Delancey
- 1987- The Big Easy
- 1986- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
- 1985- Better off Dead
- 1984- Oxford Blues
- 1983- MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
- 1982- The Thing
- 1981- Honky Tonk Freeway
- 1980- Schock
- 1979- Rich Kids
- 1978- Coma