In a world populated by overblown blockbusters, the simplicity and directness of Wes Craven’s Red-Eye…
No. We cannot praise a film merely for cutting out what might be called the extraneous fat of the standard Hollywood film. It is instructive perhaps to watch such a film, so we can see what we are losing, but the film must be judged on its own merits. It is true that you get out within an hour and a half and this can always be regarded as A GOOD THING, but lack of motivation for the bad guy, coupled with characters so sketchy they barely have lines drawn in them does not suffice. It is also the second film I have seen in a week where even scant knowledge of the plot of the film completely arses up the first half hour.
The good however? This is probably the closest we have come to an Ordinary Joe (or Ordinary Jane) action movie, where the lead who survives is no more talented, strong or specially trained than you or I. The reason it pulls it off is Wes Craven’s stint as a horror director. He is used to having female leads, and the Last Girl paradigm is one he uses in a wholly different setting here. Indeed the last act is pretty much just a scene from Scream without the mask. Certainly we get the much lampooned (by Scary Movie) running up the stairs and throwing stuff down at the bad guy scene not once, but twice. WITH THE SAME STAIRS.
The joys of Red-Eye is its simplicity, and that it never outstays its welcome. Rachel McAdams is good (if too toothsome) for the plucky heroine, and Cillian Murphy possibly seals his fate at never playing a good guy ever again. Especially when he starts channeling Jack Nicholson (bad acting, good fun).