Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Monday, January 23, 2017


directed by Wes Craven; starring Rachel McAdams
You know a movie is in trouble –- big trouble -– when the very premise that it is built upon is logically flawed. From the moment the thinking viewer realizes that there is no real justification for anything that is happening on the screen, the drama is gone; the tension is immediately released like the rushing of air through a pierced balloon. You can’t pretend that any of the action is really happening because you know that in truth it wouldn’t be, so ya... just... don't... care.

The art of moviemaking is meant to temporarily suspend a viewer’s reality (or suspend disbelief) and substitute an alternate scenario, to draw him or her into a foreign but plausible situation that will provide a kind of “voyeuristic” thrill.

There’s a lot more flexibility and less demand on a filmmaker who is presenting a story that is “preposterous” to begin with. The audience comes in without the expectation that anything will necessarily conform to what is considered a standard understanding of the real world.

But when a director is trying to create drama that revolves around a reasonably valid potentiality, the premise had darn-sure better be cogent. One cannot build a fortress in the sky and expect anyone to believe in it. There must be a sound foundation under it. And that’s the first, and most egregious, of the many crimes committed by RED EYE. The problem is that this “flight” never even takes off because it wasn’t on solid ground to begin with.

Here’s the setup:

A hotel manager is “abducted” on an airplane, and unless she agrees to make a phone call and use her authority to have the director of America’s Homeland Security department and his family moved to a suite other than the one they ordinarily occupy when visiting her hotel, an assassin is going to do his nasty work on her unsuspecting dad.

The team of (supposedly) highly professional hitmen behind this complex plan –- who arranged the spying on this hotel manager to learn her habits and background and who are responsible for her “skyjacking” –- they want the Homeland Security director moved so they can fire a missile through his window and blow him to pieces. The movie becomes a game of cat-and-mouse between the hotel manager and her abductor on the airplane.

Now, can somebody tell me what's wrong with this picture? ...Anybody? ...Yes, you, in the vest, is it?

Well, here are some obvious questions that the movie RED EYE does not answer:

How did the team of killers know in advance that the room they were targeting would be vacant at the time of the director’s arrival?

Why did they need the director in THAT particular room? Did the suite he normally occupied not have any windows that they could fire a missile through? I’ve never been in a hotel room without windows, have you?

Why go to all this trouble? Was this highly sophisticated and professional assassination squad not capable of hiding itself on some nearby rooftop long before the director’s arrival and taking him out with that missile the moment he and his family emerged from their limousine at the hotel? Or couldn't they just blow up the limousine with the director and his family IN it?

In other words, the entire airplane abduction scenario with the hotel manager was unnecessary, and the moment you realize that fact the whole movie becomes unreal.

I’ve only gotten started here -- there are several other reasons RED EYE is a bad movie. Should you spend your time and money on this? I’ve already answered that question. The real question that needs to be asked now is:

What’s the difference between dog poop and RED EYE?

And the answer is:

Thirty thousand feet.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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