This movie baffles me immediately on two levels – first, I really thought Wes Craven had lost it after the Scream trilogy, Cursed being just a huge disappointment, and he seems to have embraced the remake-sequelitis of his old classics a little too much for my liking (much as I might be looking forward to the Last House remake). So it’s great, if surprising, to see he still definitely has ‘it’ here, and even better to find that he’s still most definitely a people person when it comes to his horror (more on that later).
Second, it’s just something about movies like this – the last of which was for me Flightplan, I think, and before it Fincher’s Panic Room … it’s the kind of movie that makes making a great thriller – not just a good one, but a great one – look almost easy. It makes me think to myself, why are there so many bad ones? How is it possible to screw this up when there are so many fine blueprints (most of them by, you guessed it, Alfred Hitchcock – just had to throw his name in here somewhere)?
I think possibly the answer is in casting – certainly the presence of Jodie Foster in the two I just mentioned backs that up – and Wes Craven has a great one here, with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy leading, Brian Cox in the background, and I even wanna mention the small parts – Angela Paton, for example, whose IMDb filmography sort of amused me. She’s played almost exactly the same part she plays here at least twice before, in The United States of Leland and Home for the Holidays, respectively as “Airplane Woman” and “Woman on Airplane” – she’s just “Nice Lady” here, lol, and I want her sitting next to me whenever I find sufficient need to get inside a flying machine. Then there’s Jayma Mays – and I’ll admit, I badly wanted to sing her praises back when reviewing Epic Movie, but for obvious reasons I wanted to keep positivity to a minimum on that movie, lol. Well now I can finally say it – how awesome is she? Especially at the end when the shit hits the fan, lol.
But then there’s the small fact that early on, the movie contains this line:
“Whatever female-based, emotion-driven dilemma you may be dealing with right now, you have my sympathy. But right now, we need to break this down into male-based, fact-driven logic.”
First of all, Cillian Murphy delivers this mouthful of a line about as brilliantly as any of the old Star Wars actors delivered George Lucas’ nightmarish dialogue, lol. Second of all, I hope I’ve said enough elsewhere in other reviews to make it clear that this kind of black and white thinking regarding the sexes – even if it does come from a vile character’s mouth – can easily turn me way off not just movies, but TV shows, books, magazines, even individuals, anything. I just find it barmy, inhuman, depressing how easily the masses seem to just sail along with it. I could rant about that for hours – but the point is, for some reason, I wasn’t for a moment turned off by it here. This movie somehow falls precisely into some kind of feminist dream, yet it’s all almost purely coincidental – the dumb male villain (played brilliantly by Murphy, don’t get me wrong) falling exactly into The Profile, the strongwilled female heroine getting her shit together yet being feminine, maternal even, a daughter, all the archetypes, all the way – there’s even a perceptive young girl on board this flight that puts just about every ridiculously precocious starlet to shame the way she pinpoints the situation ahead of time.
Rachel McAdams really deserves kudos for bringing such a relatively simple character to life as well as she does – it’s one we really don’t see enough of in movies, the kind of role actresses talk about all the time on the chatshows, and I don’t think I’d realised quite how much I missed seeing such a character until seeing her version of it. When McAdams tells the annoying patrons of her hotel, “Shove it up your ass,” at the end, I don’t think that phrase has ever stood for so much – she deserves that moment so much it’s incredible – the way, before that, she spends at least 10 minutes (and this in a movie that barely breaks 70 of ‘em) checking that everyone else is okay – like, literally, everyone – even though it’s evident she is ready to break down after what she’s been through, everyone else comes first. Like I said, she’s a girl who gets shit done. Okay, I’m not gonna try putting the movie as a whole on such a high pedestal, but Rachel McAdams, definitely, is up there with Katie Holmes in Pieces of April, Maggie Gyllenhaal in SherryBaby, Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets, Jodie Foster in … everything … y’know … I know some of those names won’t trigger the same admiration in others, but what I’m saying is, just the great female characters in movies, think of your faves, she’s up there, I promise. I think so anyway. I’m gushing now, I should stop.
I have no idea if any of this made sense. I feel like I could write pages on this movie if someone was paying me or I was at college, but poor you, neither of these apply, you’ll just have to remove the cloud of alcohol fumes and fill in the gaps yourselves
Now I almost wanna say, realising how much I just wrote, I really didn’t love the movie quite as much as this implies, lol – it’s funny how much a single line can bring out of me sometimes, though, lol.