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Wes Is More 

Red Eye (HH 1/2 out of four) qualifies as the best movie director Wes Craven has ever made, and if that sounds like damning him with faint praise, so be it. But unlike the junk that has come to define his inexplicably lengthy career (The Last House On the Left, The People Under the Stairs, Scream), this new film at least feels like an A-list project rather than the usual masturbatory exercises in misogyny he usually foists upon a complacent public.

Craven's delight in filming the twitch of the death nerve is second only to his fetishistic tendency to focus on women in extreme peril and undergoing unspeakable torture. Yet Red Eye marks that rare occasion when the put-upon female protagonist never seems a helpless victim as much as a headstrong heroine just waiting for the right moment to make her move. For that, credit writers Carl Ellsworth and Dan Foos, but reserve the biggest cheer for Rachel McAdams. McAdams, who in less than two years has proven herself worthy of being tagged The Next Big Thing, delivers a strong performance as Lisa Reisert, whose flight home to Miami turns into a terror trip once she discovers that the charming guy (Cillian Murphy) sitting next to her will manipulate her into helping him assassinate the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (Jack Scalia). Knowing that her father (Brian Cox) will be slain if she doesn't cooperate, Lisa, motivated by a tragedy in her own past that the movie reveals only gradually, will do everything in her power to save both Poppa and the politician.

Like last year's equally preposterous guilty pleasure Cellular, Red Eye may not expand the parameters of the thriller genre but it certainly knows how to make its way inside its well-established conventions. Unfortunately, that can only take a film so far, and even at 85 minutes, the movie begins to coast as it reaches its obvious climax. Still, considering I once wrote that I would never subject myself to any more Craven images, Red Eye is enjoyable enough to make me glad I gave him a second -- or would that be fifth? Or eighth? -- chance.

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