I will give you a puzzle, let’s see if you can solve it — which movie gives the whiff of a traditional rom-com but ends up playing out like an action-thriller? Hint: It stars the talented duo of Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. Nothing? I am talking about the 2005 Wes Craven directorial Red Eye. Pacy, with a somewhat illogical conspiracy plot, what really elevates Red Eye’s game are the lead actors’ performances — stunning and surprising from start to finish. I say surprising because Rachel McAdams was not really known for anything else except being the wide-eyed beauty of big romantic dramas prior to Red Eye. However, in the film, she uses her lovely eyes to convey a deep, unsettling kind of fear that is at once uncomfortable and hard to look away from. Meanwhile, the versatile and sadly underrated Cillian finally gets to play the lead in a commercial, but as a villain. With his arresting looks and slight frame, it would be difficult to imagine him as a monster of a movie villain. But in Red Eye, he is exactly that.
Fifteen minutes into the movie and you are thinking, ‘Oh, but I was promised an entertaining mystery drama.’ But if you wait for another ten minutes, you would get what was promised to you by the filmmaker. Red Eye leans towards the rom-com tropes in the first few minutes of the film, and it really throws you off the scent for some time until we see our leads seated next to each other in a plane. Most of Red Eye’s drama takes place within the confines of an aircraft, which makes the thriller even more edgy and suspenseful. I mean, how much space can you play with, when you are on a flight? The scope is limited, but director Craven took that space and ran with it at the speed of light. (SPOILERS) Very quickly, you come to know that Cillian is not just another handsome dude waiting to sweep the lady off her feet. He does sweep off her feet but in a very different fashion. You will have to watch the film to know what I am talking about.
Now a word about Cillian Murphy. Over the years, you might have seen the Irish actor in multiple Christopher Nolan movies (Dunkirk, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises, Inception). Apart from those movies, Cillian has also been garnering praise for his turn as the quietly charismatic Thomas Shelby in the Netflix series Peaky Blinders. But in Red Eye, he steals everyone’s thunder by portraying the dark character of Jackson Rippner. Rippner is menacing, but doesn’t look like it until you steal a glance at his steely blue eyes. He means business, but he goes about it stealthily. Rippner is not into show-off, for him it is all about getting the job done. Cillian as Rippner is oddly seductive — something that you don’t often say about the bad guys.
Hollywood Rewind: Notting Hill | Fargo | The Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | Tangled | Meet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles
In an earlier interview, Cillian had explained what drew him to the part. He said, “The confined space really appealed to me because it really was down to the two actors to create all the suspense and tension.” And that is indeed one of the major draws of the movie from the perspective of an artiste. What possibilities can you explore within this small space? A place where you cannot hide or cut to scenes easily. But even 15 years down the line, it is easy to see why the film went on to achieve the success that it did.
You can watch Red Eye on Amazon Prime Video.
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