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Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
~ Jackson Rippner

Jackson Rippner is the main antagonist of the 2005 action thriller film Red Eye.

He was portrayed by Cillian Murphy, who also portrayed Scarecrow in the Dark Knight Trilogy, Timekeeper Raymond Leon in In Time, and Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders.


Jackson works for a terrorist group. After attending her grandmother's funeral, Lisa Reisert meets Jackson while waiting for her delayed flight back to Miami, where he says he is also heading. They have a drink together at the airport bar, and she finds him charming, if a bit strange.

When she is boarding the plane, Lisa also learns that Jackson is boarding the same flight. After the plane takes off, Jackson reveals he is working for a group that intends to kill Charles Keefe, the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, and his family - and Lisa is instrumental to their plan, because she is the manager of the hotel where the Keefe family are staying. If Lisa refuses to cooperate, a hitman will be deployed to kill her father Joe at his home. While Lisa has no way of preventing the murder without getting her father killed, she is desperate to somehow prevent it from happening.

She first attempts to write a warning in the book, when the old lady from the check-in line comes to talk to her about it. Jackson, however, head-butts her unconscious after finding out. The second time is when she goes to the rest room, and writes a warning - in soap - on the mirror. When sitting in his seat on the plane, Jackson notices that the JetPhone In-Flight Telephone Service is in use. He heads over to the rest-room, and appears at the door just as Lisa is about to leave. He then sees the writing on the mirror, and forces Lisa back inside.

When Lisa begs him not to kill her father, Jackson simply responds by telling her she should stop gambling with his life. He then notices a scar above Lisa's breast, and asks her if someone did that to her. When she tells him no, he then starts choking her. After letting her go, he starts using water-soaked paper-towels to wipe off the message on the mirror. A flight attendant is suspicious of the noise coming from the bathroom, but mistakes it for Jackson and Lisa having sex.

In order to kill Keefe, it is intended to use a portable missile launcher - from a boat in a nearby harbor - aimed at the hotel. There is one problem, however: Keefe likes to stay in a different suite to the one facing where the missile is - staying in a suite that faces the city, instead. Jackson has to force Lisa to use the In-Flight Telephone Service, so that she can tell the hotel staff to change the reservation, so that Keefe and his family will be staying in Room 4080 - the suite facing where the missile is.

Following turbulence from a storm which means the In-Flight Telephone Service cannot be used, Lisa successfully makes the call a second time around - and Keefe and his family are moved into Room 4080. But, Jackson can't let either Lisa or her father go, because he still needs the call confirming that Keefe and his family have be killed.

When the plane finally arrives at its destination, Lisa tells Jackson how she got the scar: she was raped two years earlier, and her rapist cut her. She then stabs him in the throat with a pen, and makes a run for it from the plane, with his phone. While the flight attendants are calling for emergency services, both the airport security and Jackson chase Lisa through the airport. Lisa narrowly manages to escape both, and takes an SUV - so that she can have time to phone the hotel. She phones the hotel, and warns them about the attempt on the Keefe family's lives. She also tells them to evacuate immediately, and Cynthia, Lisa's assistant, and the Secret Service manage to evacuate the Keefes, just before the assassin launches a missile into the room, destroying it.

When Lisa has to drive to her father's house before Jackson can deploy the hitman, she finds the hitman is already there - and runs him down with the SUV, and crashes through the front of the house. Afterwards, Jackson arrives and knocks out Lisa's father - so that he can deal with Lisa himself.

He then chases her through the house, and when he finally catches up with her, throws her down the stairs. After Lisa crawls down the last few steps, she finds a gun lying next to the dead hitman - and picks it up, before then threatening Jackson with it. He attempts to escape, but Lisa shoots him before he can. He then kicks the gun out of her hand and grabs her by the hair, but Lisa's father shoots and kills Jackson just as the police are arriving.

In an extended version of the film, Jackson is shown to be strapped to a gurney as emergency medical responders transport him to the hospital. In this version of the film, which was shown on ABC, it is left ambiguous whether he survives.


Jackson Rippner appears as first as a polite, charming and supportive person, as he takes defense for Lisa against an angry client. His charm undoubtedly makes effect on Lisa. He has a strange sense of humor, joking about having killed his parents.

However, when he is on the flight, his true self comes to light. He is actually a ruthless and manipulative assassin who does whatever is needed to get his job done. Rippner is also a misogynist, believing women to be guided just by emotion rather than logic like men. For the majority of the time, Rippner is calm and collected as an assassin usually needs to be. But at the end, when Lisa foils his plan and manages to flee in her father's house, Rippner loses all his composure and decides to personally kill Lisa despite his wound and ignorance of the environment.

Jackson's life seems to be only dedicated to his job. He is quite enigmatic because not much is known about him. But in some interviews, Wes Craven gives a more humanized description of him. According to them, Rippner does not take pleasure doing his work and secretly wants to be like normal people. This is fitting as he says to Lisa with a resigned tone that "sometimes, bad things happens to good people" when she discovers Rippner's bosses targets include children.

While it is only implied in the movie, Craven admits Jackson has become infatuated with Lisa when he stalked her for eight months. That said, this is just obsession as Craven has revealed he was envious of Lisa's rapist when she revealed to have been victim of rape. Nevertheless, he shows concerns at this revelation, as he gently asked if Lisa has told herself "that it was out of her control" in order to move on.



  • The name "Jackson Rippner" is a blatant reference to "Jack the Ripper", and this is even pointed out at one point in the film by Lisa and himself.
  • Red Eye and Batman Begins, both of which Cillian Murphy starred in, came out in 2005.


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