Director Wes Craven takes a rare departure from his typical horror fare to create the efficient and exciting thriller 'Red Eye.'Lisa Reisert (a relentlessly attractive Rachel McAdams) is a hotel manager headed home to Miami who begins to hit it off with Jackson Rippner (a relentlessly creepy Cillian Murphy), a fellow passenger awaiting the much-delayed titular flight. However, jet fret sets in once the plane takes off and Jackson reveals his true motives: if Lisa doesn’t obey his orders, her father will be murdered.
Craven and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth take this claustrophobic premise and form a tangible tension that turns the movie into compelling viewing, both mean and lean, with emphasis on the latter. The film only runs about eighty minutes without credits, thus streamlining the plot to the bare essentials. (This may also explain why Brian Cox, who appears as Lisa’s father, has lost so much weight.) There is no time to ask questions that remain unanswered or actions that require severe disbelief on behalf of the viewer. For the second time this summer, both McAdams (Wedding Crashers) and Murphy (Batman Begins) have proven themselves to be capable young actors on the rise. Murphy never goes too over-the-top in his villainous portrayal, and McAdams strikes just the right chords of initial fear, then determination.
Things get shaky when the plane lands and the third act commences. Once the characters make it back on terra firma, Craven regresses to his old ways and creates a killer-in-the-house game out of the climax. While not entirely unsatisfying, the detour into Scream territory is a bit out of tone with the rest of the film.A pleasant surprise in the same vein as last year’s underrated 'Cellular,' 'Red Eye' is a highly enjoyable B-movie thrill ride that ends the summer movie season on a higher note than usual.