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Red Eye

Strangers on a Plane

Wes Craven's Red Eye is an efficient thriller that rides a simple, clever idea for 85 strong minutes. It's short and satisfying, and if it lacks the scares normally associated with Craven's signature works, Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, it lacks none of the suspense. Even as it winds to a seemingly inevitable conclusion, it manages to keep the audience on edge with its creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere and the tension between its stars, Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy.

McAdams plays Lisa, a senior hotel executive traveling on a late-night flight to Miami, where she will oversee the stay of the new director of Homeland Security. Like many Americans in the post-9/11 era, Lisa isn't wild about flying, and a stressful delay at the Dallas airport doesn't take the edge off. But things start looking up when she meets the ominously named Jack Rippner (Murphy), a handsome, smooth-talking stranger.

The only problem? Jack is a hired killer, and Lisa is an unwitting pawn in his latest assignment. He presents her with a choice -- to expose the director of Homeland Security to a deadly terrorist threat during his hotel stay, or to risk the murder of her father (Bryan Cox), who is being stalked by an assassin. Faced with such an unenviable decision, Lisa does her best to sabotage Jack's plan, and it is her struggle that takes up much of the movie's brief running time.

Nothing about Red Eye is extraordinary, but it is a solid bit of nail-biting entertainment, even if, in the end, it takes the easy way out. It is Hitchcockian in its simplicity, and it is most effective in its quieter moments, when Jack is calmly explaining his intentions to Lisa, who is appropriately terrified. Murphy, who portrayed the villainous Scarecrow so memorably in Batman Begins, is an ideal choice for the role: He is sly, with a disarming smile and boyish looks, but there is a deviousness in his eyes that hints at something darker, more dangerous. Here, he is chilling, and McAdams (iWedding Crashers) matches him step for step in her understandable desperation. It's a compelling combination that makes this Red Eye a flight worth watching.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars