Characters / Red Eye

Lisa Reisert

Portrayed by: Rachel McAdams

  • Action Survivor: Lisa has no formal training of any kind, but still manages to do things that most normal people could conceivably do, like stabbing Rippner in the throat with a pen, going to town on him with a field hockey stick, and kicking him down the stairs.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: By the end of the movie (post-chase scene and fight with Rippner in her home), Lisa's gone from polished, perfectly groomed, and perky to unkempt, exhausted, and more relaxed-looking.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Lisa is a relatively mild-mannered and all around decent person. Endangering her father is not a good thing to do, however. She just might stab you for it.
  • Broken Bird: Lisa is revealed to be one.
  • Character Development: Lisa starts off as a mild-mannered, young woman, who gradually grows intimidated by Rippner's threats, has her past as a survivor of a violent sexual assault used against her, and even briefly gives into Rippner's plans; however, when push turns to shove and through sheer willpower, Lisa manages to overthrow Rippner's plans while becoming a more confident and determined person towards the end.
  • Daddy's Girl: Lisa is very close with her father and it's best not to threaten him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: She was raped in a parking lot by a man that held her at knifepoint, leaving her with both a physical scar on her chest, and several emotional ones. As a result, she's very distant from people and doesn't have much of a life outside her job.
  • Determinator: Lisa inevitably becomes this to save both her father and the Keefes from Rippner's assassination plot.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Henrietta, which was her late grandmother's name.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lisa is first seen talking on the phone with Cynthia and her father and is shown to be very firm and in control of her life (and her similar movements as her father, as they are both walking around in the scene, shows just where she gets it from).
  • The Fettered: Lisa's limitations (i.e., her unwillingness to kill or put others in danger for her own sake) ultimately lead to her having the strength to defy Rippner.
  • Haunted Heroine: A non-supernatural equivalent. The "ghosts" of her past are clearly still hurting her, even as she tries to move on.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Rippner reveals that Lisa is one in a rather creepy scene.
    Rippner: Now I've known you for a while now, Lisa, before tonight, I mean. As far as I can tell, your life revolves around your job, the occasional cocktail at the corner cafe, the classic late night movies, oh, and scrambled eggs at 3AM. What turned you into such a loner? Is it your parents' divorce? Wait, did someone break your heart?
  • Mysterious Past: Until The Reveal.
  • Office Lady: Lisa is a much more competent Western version of one of these.
  • Panty Shot: Incidentally, but conspicuously, during the final struggle when Rippner knocks her around and throws her, wounded, down the stairs of her house.
  • Plucky Girl: She doesn't give up. Ever.
  • Rape as Backstory: The result of the scar. Implied in the film and confirmed in the DVD Commentary.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Goes from a mild-mannered hotel manger who doesn't have a mean or violent bone in her body to the badass that outsmarted and outran a terrorist, stabbed him with a pen, and beat the crap out of him with a hockey stick.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She really doesn't like flying on airplanes, and is visibly anxious during the takeoff.
  • Workaholic: She has basically no life outside of her job. The only friend she seems to have is her coworker, Cynthia, and it's mentioned by Rippner that he never sees her go out beyond the occasional drink at places near her home.

Jackson Rippner

Portrayed by: Cillian Murphy

  • Affably Evil: At first.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: He's impeccably dressed, and rather dangerous.
  • Beneath the Mask: Rippner is charming when he wants to be, but the entire thing is a charade and not his real self. Once he reveals what a bad person he is, he doesn't bother to maintain the facade around Lisa, and it's completely gone by the end.
  • Berserk Button: For a professional assassin, Rippner has a two:
    • The first time Lisa makes an attempt to foil Rippner's plans, he headbutts her, knocking her out cold.
    • Rippner makes the claim that he "never lies" and takes the fact that Lisa lied and ordered a Bay Breeze instead of her preferred Sea Breeze a lot harder than most people would.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Rippner claims that he has never lied to Lisa, and he expects Lisa to never lie to him in return, as it would not serve either of them. Lisa lies about her Drink Order and later attempts to thwart his plans twice through dishonesty (lying about writing in the self-help book, pretending to still talk on the phone when the phone lines die out, and then writing a message in the lavatory to try and expose Rippner's plans); with time running out, it boils down to him choking her for it. By the end of the film, he tries to kill her for ruining his plans.
  • The Chessmaster: Rippner explains that he, like Lisa, is in "management." His job is not to assassinate anyone or shoot anyone; it is to orchestrate everything so everybody else can do the shooting.
  • Corporate Samurai: He's the self proclaimed 'manager' of an assassination. And although he's claims to be terrible shot, he is not above getting his hands dirty when it comes to violence.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Sure, they may just be Cillian Murphy's normal eyes, but they are creepy. They are also the feature that won Wes Craven over.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He makes several sarcastic comments to and about Lisa.
  • Determinator: Rippner becomes obsessively determined to kill Lisa once his plans are foiled by the end of the film.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Depending how it is interpreted, Rippner has several, but a key moment in particular is when he defends Lisa from the irate passenger in the check-in line. The audience gets their first glimpse of the suave character who's been standing behind Lisa for quite some time — handsome, a fast talker, and, apparently, stronger than he looks. While it appears his actions will lead to a Rescue Romance/Samaritan Relationship Starter with Lisa, a brief close-up of Rippner's intimidating blue eyes staring down the irate passenger is an indicator to the audience that something is off about him.
  • Evil Counterpart: In some ways, Rippner is this to Lisa. They are both revealed to be Not So Different—being "managers" of their particular profession that involves a lot of call-making, are fairly professional, needing to be in control, and are involved in a morally ambiguous situation that risks both of their lives.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: According to the director, Jackson was jealous of Lisa's rapist. Ick.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Craven reveals in the commentary that Rippner secretly desires normality in his life beyond his shady dealings, which includes his attraction towards Lisa, who he knows is someone he can never have in his life.
  • Lima Syndrome: Rippner's "affection" for Lisa can be seen as this, though it's subverted as he had watched her for eight weeks and developed feelings prior to taking her "hostage" on their flight.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Never mind that he was evil to begin with (as far as we know), but the realization that he will never have someone like Lisa in his life, and that his plans are deteriorating because of her, does send Rippner over the edge.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He's perfectly willing to use Lisa's fear of him and love of her father against her.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: It's made clear throughout the movie that beneath that suit, Rippner is a wiry little bastard, from easily hefting a heavy-looking suitcase into an overheard compartment, to overpowering Lisa, to barging through being hit with a vase, a chair, and even that first bullet from the gun.
  • Mysterious Past: We really don't know anything about his life pre-movie, except that he killed his parents. Maybe.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: He is named after Jack the Ripper.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jackson Rippner = Jack the Ripper. Even he comments on how ridiculously evil his name sounds.
  • No Name Given: According to Wes Craven in an interview, "Jackson Rippner" is not even Rippner's real name and is a pseudonym. He apparently made it up after seeing the "J.R." initials on Lisa's father's wallet.
  • Pet the Dog: Rippner surprisingly has a few concerning Lisa. When he headbutts Lisa, the first thing Rippner does is fix Lisa's hair and gently rest her head against her seat before tending to himself. In the lavatory scene, he expresses concern over the scar and who gave her it, and according to Word of God, Rippner's "that it was out of your control" line was "something a friend would say to a friend" and it had "a friendly, compassionate undertone to it."
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Rippner is more than a little misogynistic.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Rippner could be the poster child for this trope, though you wouldn't necessarily know it to look at him. He needs Lisa to be alive and functional in order to carry out the hit.
  • Professional Killer: Sort of. He isn't hired to do the actual killing — his job is to make sure everything goes according to plan so other people can do the killing.
  • Psycho for Hire: A variant. His job technically isn't to kill anybody, it's just to make things easier on the people that do. He's definitely psycho, though.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Rippner is simply doing his job and has no personal grudge against Lisa, but his life beyond his job is unknown. However, when Rippner's job begins to break down, so does he.
  • Punny Name: Jackson Rippner. This gets lampshaded a few times.
    Rippner: No, no, I haven't gone by Jack since I was ten years old. Last name's Rippner.
    Lisa: Jack Rippner. Jack... the... oh...
  • Self-Made Orphan: When Lisa comments on his unfortunate name, she remarks, "That wasn't very nice of your parents!", to which Rippner replies, "Yeah, that's what I told them. Right before I killed them." There's a Beat, then Lisa assumes he's kidding and they both have a chuckle over it. Then we find out Rippner's true nature, and his Villains Never Lie status, and the fact that he claims to have killed his parents is just left hanging there...
  • The Spook: Who is Rippner, really? Who, exactly, does he work for? What was he doing before then? Why is he involved in criminal activities in the first place? What's his life like outside of his job? Are any of his seemingly redeeming qualities actually real, or is it all a facade? Who knows? Certainly not Lisa, and since the film follows her, the audience doesn't know, either. According to the director, "Jackson Rippner" isn't even actually his name. We really know nothing about him for sure.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Confirmed by Word of God in the commentary, Rippner did develop feelings for Lisa over the eight weeks he had to watch her. Not healthy feelings, but feelings nevertheless.
  • The Stoic: Rippner prefers—and even seems to take pride in—his professionalism and "male-driven fact-based logic." However, he turns Not So Stoic quite a number of times.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome and Snarky
  • Terms of Endangerment: Rippner is very fond of calling Lisa, "Leese."
  • The Unfettered: Nothing will stop him from getting the job done. Not the fact that children could be killed as a result, not his attraction to Lisa, not what few morals he has. Nothing. Except maybe Lisa stabbing him, beating him up, and throwing him down the stairs...
  • Unfortunate Names: Not because it sounds bad, per se (in fact, it's sort of an "Awesome McCool" Name at the same time), but, well... Jackson Rippner. You'd turn evil too. Lampshaded by both Lisa and Rippner himself.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Even with the situation deteriorating, Rippner manages to be suave and intimidating. But when Lisa stabs him in the throat with a pen and escapes, all bets are off. Clearly displayed in their final battle. At this point, Rippner has almost no control over the situation and had unprofessionally followed Lisa to her home, forgetting the crucial fact that she basically has the upper hand.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: Made more prominent by shadows and lighting effects.
  • Villainous Crush: Towards Lisa.
  • Villains Never Lie: Rippner is very clear that he has not lied to Lisa even once despite the hostile situation, and he is hurt that she does lie to him. However, he is in fact lying when he says this; he tells at least one lie to Lisa on the plane, which puts his entire not-lying status in question. Also, see No Name Given.
  • Workaholic: Like Lisa, he doesn't seem to have much going on besides his job. Though this could be because we know almost nothing else about him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Rippner is quite violent with Lisa throughout the film. He headbutts Lisa, nearly strangles her, and later tries to kill her when his plans fail. He is also willing to turn the other cheek on the fact that Keefe's assassination includes his wife and children as well.
  • Yandere: Rippner zigzags between being seemingly sweet and violently sinister with Lisa. At the climax of the film, Rippner unprofessionally chases after Lisa from the airport terminal to her own house out of blind rage and vengeance at her escaping him. When he learns that his plans have been foiled, it only sets in stone his desire to "finish the job" and kill her.