A review of “Red Eye” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for violence and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

 

 

The classic stranger-with-an-agenda oeuvre gets re-tooled with fresh vigor in this fun and fast-paced suspense thriller.

Cillian Murphy -- he of the sizzling baby blues -- headlines as Jackson Rippner, an alleged everyday Joe who gets stalled at the Dallas airport en route to Miami along with the beautiful but worn around edges Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams), an upscale Florida hotel manager.

The pair is seated next to one another on the plane in what seems like a serendipitous coincidence. But an innocent flirtation becomes an urgent race against time when Jackson informs Lisa that he is a secret operative working a plot involving an A-list dignitary staying at Lisa’s hotel.

If Lisa does not cooperate with Jackson’s chilling instructions (no spoilers here!) her father (Brian Cox) will be murdered by an assassin waiting for Jackson’s call.

A lot to take in when the climate merely called for a stiff vodka tonic and a pair of eyeshades. Lisa is stuck between a rock and a hard place, forced to do Jackson’s bidding yet relying on instinct and imagination to dig herself out of an urban travel nightmare.

True to form, master horror guru Wes Craven steeps his thriller in workaday cliché, auspiciously pairing it with quick and snappy repartee and some spine-tingling jolts. Craven establishes his mood and manages to keep it edgy and claustrophobic throughout while relying on the less-than-subtle art of comic relief to spell the strain.

Murphy carries the homicidal maniac at 30,000 feet gig with surprising aplomb. Chemistry between Murphy and McAdams crackles with tension rendering “Red Eye” the perfect end-of-summer guilty pleasure.