Sunday, April 23, 2006

Now Playing: Red Eye

Wes Craven doesn't get much in the way of respect as a director. It may come from one too many "New Nightmare"'s on his resume but the man knows how to ratchet up the tension when he wants to. I like that given the success of the "Scream" franchise his first instinct was to make a film about a classical music teacher played by Meryl Streep. That's ballsy anyway you look at it so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on what could be a cliched thriller in "Red Eye."

What kept My Fair Lady and I from seeing this in the theater last year was a combination of factors the primary one being her absolutely insane schedule in law school. Another was the fact that this is only around 86 minutes long and there's no way I'm paying $15 for that short a film. I'm convinced, however, that Netflix was created in part to give films like this a life past the box office. The short running time is a big benefit here because the film gets right to business and doesn't stop until the final frame. Why that's a good thing is it doesn't waste space despite setting up a half dozen cliched subplots that are promptly ignored in favor of terrorizing Rachel McAdams who plays Lisa Reisert.

McAdams is coming into her own as an actress lately with this, "The Notebook," and "Wedding Crasher." I've not seen the other two but My Fair Lady swears "The Notebook" is the greatest love story ever made, which means that's two hours I'll go out of my way to avoid for the rest of my days. She's a solid lead in "Red Eye" and having the great Cillian Murphy (forever known to me as Scarecrow from "Batman Begins") to bounce off of helps pound home the misery. She's catching the last flight out of Dallas to Miami to go see her dad (a stranded Brian Cox) when Murphy's Jackson Ripner takes the seat next to her. They both hit it off earlier in the film, but once the plane takes off he makes it clear that unless she makes a phone call to her hotel, he'll place a call to an assassin to kill her dad.

And people wonder why I hate sitting in coach.

As Lisa comes unglued and slowly tries to get a grip on things Ripner stays attached to her hip. This is really a two-person play complete with a funny nod to Craven's past film efforts towards the end with the way Ripner chases Lisa up some stairs while wielding a knife. We also laughed at how Dallas was portrayed because there were cowboy hats left and right. The two things they nailed with any accuracy was a cabbie complaining about Dallas drivers and the older blonde woman who briefly flirts with Ripner. It was funny seeing how a quickie Hollywood production like this views north Texas.

Overall the movie is quick and easily digested fun. It won't go down in history as a tribute to innovative cinema but for a fast rental it's entertaining enough.

Grade: B

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