Red Eye: Paramount Presents (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

A woman is kidnapped by a stranger on a routine flight. Threatened by the potential murder of her father, she is pulled into a plot to assist her captor in a political assassination.

March 24, 2023 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When you have a name like Wes Craven attached to a movie, odds are that it’ll be in the horror genre. And normally, that would be a true statement. But with “Red Eye” Craven crossed over to the thriller genre, something he’s done before and done pretty well. We associate Craven with movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream movies but with Red Eye he reaches new heights – pun totally intended. But first, a bit about the casting (and there’s a featurette on the casting as well – more on that later). The movie stars the ultra hot (in as many senses of the word) Rachel McAdams, who has gone from supporting player to movie mega-star in the course of a year. Her roles in The Notebook and Wedding Crashers paved the way for her role here and she does a good job in her first true leading role. She also does a good job of portraying the strong female character, something Craven likes to portray in his films.

For anyone who doesn’t know the “red eye” is the traveling term for the last flight of the night destined to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. This comes into play as Lisa (Rachel McAdams) is en route from Dallas to her home in Miami. However, the flight has been delayed and before she knows it she’s having drinks with a charming man (Cillian Murphy) who happens to be on her flight. Eventually the plane does take off and as she learns more and more about Jackson (Murphy) he quickly turns from charming to sinister. He informs her that he needs her to use her pull as hotel manager to move the Director of Homeland Security (Jack Scalia) to a different room so that he might be more easily assassinated. The catch is that if she doesn’t make the phone call, her father will be killed by one of Jackson’s hit men.

The movie is short (about 1 hour and 15 minutes from opening to closing credits) and the majority of it does take place on the airplane where the cat and mouse game continues into the airport terminal. McAdams is convincing as a woman in distress, yet who is powerful enough to face the forces against her. There’s also a small role for one of the Director of Homeland Security’s guards played by Colby Donaldson. Fans of Survivor will undoubtedly remember Donaldson who seems to be one of the very few to make the transition from “reality” star to “movie” star. Red Eye has all the right elements and with the movie being as short as it is, there are not a lot of spots for the action to subside. It has energy and is tense enough to keep the viewer guessing.

Video: How does it look?

This is the first time we’ve seen the film in 4K and I think the last time I remember watching this was when it hit DVD back in late 2005. It’s been a while. That said, a majority of the shots take place in an airplane, but we don’t get that cramped feelings as Craven uses every available inch of the screen. Movies that take place aboard a plane tend to have a very unique look mainly due to the overhead lighting and so on. Red Eye tends to have a very theatrical look and feel to it throughout, while giving us splashes of color. The 4K image has benefitted from HDR and the uptick in detail is immediately noticeable. It’s a worthwhile upgrade if you’ve been looking to retire your old disc.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track from the DVD has been upgraded to a DTS HD Master Audio mix. Why no Dolby Atmos (you’d figure while they were at it…) is beyond me, but this film has never been too heavy on the audio. There are a few instances in which the sound really takes control, the takeoff of the plane and so forth. By and large, it’s a dialogue-driven film that uses the ambiance of the plane for most of the background effects. Surrounds have a few moments to shine, but aside from that, I guess I get why they decided to forego the Atmos mix. It’s satisfying, to say the least, but not too terribly impressive.

Supplements: What are the extras?

We’ve got a few new supplements on this Paramount Presents disc, let’s get started.

  • Audio Commentary – Sadly, Director Wes Craven passed away in 2015, but his commentary track from the original disc is still preserved here. Craven offers up an insightful commentary track though some of the information is redundant from the featurettes. He knows how to make a good thriller and it’s reflected in his comments.
  • Audio Commentary – The film’s editor, Patrick Lussier, offers up a new track that’s actually not half bad. Generally speaking some of these “technical” tracks are a bit on the bland side, but I actually enjoyed it. Plus any film that gets a new commentary track for its release is always notable.
  • Filmmaker Focus: Wes Craven –  A staple of the Paramount Presents line, this one is focused on Wes Craven.
  • Wes Craven: In His Own Words – The aptly-titled feature is full of archival footage about the late, great director.
  • The Making of Red Eye – Leftover from the DVD, this is the obligatory “Making of…” featurette with plenty of chatter from the stars, notably Colby Donaldson who seems to have more lines in this than he did in the film itself.

The Bottom Line

Wes Craven wasn’t a one trick pony. He might be remembered for classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and The Last House on the Left but looking at his portfolio – there was a great variety in work. This new version of Red Eye gives the viewers little to complain about, an improved picture, better sound and new supplements. That’s a hard deal to beat.

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