Red Eye — movie review
Posted on August 23, 2005 by Kris Nelson
Again Wes Craven dares to ask the unwanted question: if you remove all exploitative sex and gore from suspense horror, will you be left with an exciting suspense movie? Following in Scream‘s successful footsteps, Craven decided to go light on the cussing and bloodying, shooting for PG-13, creating a thrilling popcorn flick sans nipples and dismemberment. So don’t go expecting the buckets-o-blood you’re used to, in fact Red Eye only divulges audiences with a trickle, albeit from a gut-flopping entry wound with some pre-teen’s Frankenstein-bobbled ballpoint. And like Scream, Craven’s casting lands contemporary cuties in awkward homicidal twists.
The unsuspecting villain this time is Cillian Murphy pronounced Killian like the bitter brew and he’s just as intoxicating. Here he’s a rather unkempt assassin task-manager with shaggy locks and longish Jude Law stubble all the way up to his c-cup cheekbones. Cillian, who’s had his share of staving off baddies in 28 Days Later, proves his versatility by recently rechanneling his creepiness from the dance scene in Disco Pigs and more recently, the not-too-scary Scarecrow in Batman Begins. It’s cunning casting really, since he has the gigantic ice-blue eyes of an angel and the puffy pout and rounded nose of a cherub and oh I could go on, but let’s just say that Craven previously created killers out of seemingly normally handsome Skeet Ulrich and dorky cute Matthew Lillard. Apparently, ugly like Freddy is out.
Also similar to Scream is the introduction of the pretty Daddy’s girl brunette whose suffering with past abuse only empowers her when confronted. She is either armed with glycerine or can really bawl on command. The heroine always hooks up with Mr. Wrong, and in Red Eye, it’s Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams from The Notebook, Wedding Crashers) who is either so horny or so naïve that she is flattered by her would-be pretend suitor with the sadistic parents who named him Jackson Rippner. Well, you know what they say about girls named Candy or Bambi growing up to be hookers? The same can be said for Mr. Jack Ripper. (I’m joking, of course… I had friends named Candy and Bambi and they grew up to be more or less normal. Bad at math, but normal).
Wacko Jack-o wants Lisa to switch the reservations of a high-profile Homeland Security official at the high-end hotel she works for, so offing him will be oh-so much easier. If she doesn’t comply, a hitman will murder her father –a retiree so bored that he falls asleep during his routine TV comedy marathons and who could probably use some spice in his life anyway. But it’s determined that father and daughter are close and that’s all that matters.
In the beginning of the movie, with the doe-eyed grins and woo-tastic bland dialogue, it drags and sputters until you begin to wonder why don’t these two adequate main actors save the 110% dramatic acting for a movie with an actual moral or point. The screenplay could have used a little housekeeping, but it was a great first-time big-screen effort for Carl Ellsworth, who wrote a Buffy and a Xena episode. They could have kicked up (or out) the timid explanation scenes for the secret disposable WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction) and half of the redundant chit-chatty nonsense involving really really rude folks. People were divided on a personality polarity rift of “complete asshole” or “polite as Gandhi”, who Lisa and Jackson have to deal with throughout the film. This is the interesting part: there are similarities between their people skills. In the rude world we live in today, we have to micromanage our tempers, grin and bear the snippiest of snobs, and basically lie. Jackson is even impressed by how such a “nice girl” like Lisa can be such a professional liar. Maybe being fake is what it takes to be construed as “nice”.
So if there was a moral, it may have been exactly what Rippner tells Lisa, “sometimes bad things happen to good people”. Lisa would rather rescue all the good people, borrowing bravery from a Dr. Phil self-help book. It’s a *gasp oh no!* short but suspenseful all-out catfight duel between a field hockey stick and a 12-inch gutting knife. Someone even gets a blunt shoe heel embedded in their thigh. It’s pretty realistic to boot; things don’t go so smoothly for Mr. Charming, who thankfully turns out to be Mr. Clumsy. It culminates to a happy ending where the bad guy is thwarted by his own inability to murder quickly and provides too much slack while reveling in his own glory moments. But you couldn’t possibly have expected any different, could you?
So the answer to the above question “will you be left with an exciting suspense movie?” is wholeheartedly “yes”. Just don’t approach this as a horror history walk of fame for Craven, accept that his intentions for reinventing scariness is spot-on, oh and buckle up for turbulence.
RELATED: Craven Countdown — interviews, extended trailers.
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