Dir. Wes Craven. 2005. PG-13. 85mins. Rachel McAdams,
Crowded onto a delayed overnight flight from Dallas to Miami after her grandmother's funeral, Lisa Reisert (McAdams) leaves it to others to complain. Polite to a fault, she declines an upgrade ("Coach is fine") with the forced cheerfulness of a trained hotel customer-service worker. "I'm a born people pleaser," she tells the sympathetic stranger (Murphy) who buys her a drink and then turns out to be her seatmate. When Lisa discreetly takes calls from a colleague handling a VIP guest (a U.S. cabinet official), the stranger feigns a lack of interest. Too late! He's smooth, yet dangerous.
When the villain demands Lisa's complicity in an assassination plot, she cowers and schemes, but can't, or won't, fight or scream. (Carl Ellsworth's script and McAdams's sad-eyed performance suggest, early on, that Lisa's paralyzed grief goes far deeper than recent bereavement.)
Craven, who's proven his mettle as a horror maestro, turns out to have a mastery of subtle suspense as well. The wolf-eyed Murphy (28 Days, Batman Begins) is creepily effective as the superficially charming terrorist. When he's mutely enraged, unable to recognize his victim in an airport terminal teeming with identical flight attendants, cashiers and clipboard-holders, Red-Eye becomes not merely a superior thriller but a tribute to the pack of heroines of the customer-service class: underestimated and invisible.—Justine Elias