TV Review: Red Eye

Red Eye proves a decent if somewhat unoriginal TV thriller, starring Richard Armitage, Jing Lusi and Lesley Sharp

“It promises to be a relaxing and uneventful flight”

New ITV thriller Red Eye inevitably struggles to stand out in a crowded market. The Idris Elba-led Hijack was only last year and being both a Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams fan, memories of the effective 2005 film thriller also called Red Eye linger long in this household at least. This Red Eye does find its own (flight)path to tread but the result, whilst watchable, doesn’t feel particularly inspired.

Written by Peter A Dowling and Jingan Young, Richard Armitage stars as Dr Matthew Nolan who we first see crashing his car after a raucous night in a Beijing nightclub which left him with a stab wound. But as he is apprehended at Heathrow after the lengthy flight home, it turns out there was a dead body in the car, the daughter of a Chinese politician no less, and so he is marched back onto the plane to face justice.

Accompanying him is Jing Lusi’s DC Hana Li (the kind of police officer who allows her charges to have a double G&T on the journey…) and a good job she is too as whilst Nolan protests his innocence, other passengers – doctors who were at the same conference as him – start to die with alarming regularity. Maybe he’s been framed and they’re both now in the middle of a conspiracy thriller, dun dun duh!

As with Hijack, the cutting between the action on the plane and scenes on terra firma can’t help but dissipate the tension. Lesley Sharp does her best as MI5 head honcho Madeline Delaney negotiating the politics of it all but Jemma Moore fares less well as Hana’s half-sister Jess who happens to be a journalist and makes necessarily but improbably quick progress on some pretty top-secret stuff.

More successful is the light-touch exploration of identity and the immigrant experience through Hana and Jess’ blended family background, even though it has nothing to do with the conspiracy. Lusi is excellent throughout as the no-nonsense Hana and Armitage edges ever closer to Gerard Butler territory as handsome lunk Nolan (his shirt is duly whipped off within the first five minutes) and is as appealing as ever. Undemanding but entertaining nonetheless.

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