ITV's Red Eye branded 'so bad it's good' as critics and viewers divided

Richard Armitage's thriller set on a plane was ridiculed by some for being unrealistic, but many admit they are gripped by the unbelievable new series.

Richard Amritage and Jing Lusi in Red Eye (ITV)
Red Eye divided viewers with its implausible plot. (ITV)

New ITV drama Red Eye has divided both viewers and critics for being so ridiculous - which has some turning off, while others are hooked.

Even Richard Armitage - the star of the Sunday night thriller set on an aeroplane - has confessed he had to suspend his own disbelief in order to play the role. And while some branded the implausibility of the plot "unpredictable" and "far-fetched fun", others ridiculed the unrealistic, "cliche" scenarios and panned the acting.

Red Eye launched on Sunday night on ITV1 at 9pm with Armitage starring alongside Carzy Rich Asians’ Jing Lusi. The Hobbit plays Dr Matthew Nolan (Armitage) an expat arriving at Heathrow Airport from China, only to be immediately arrested at immigration after being involved in a car crash in which a woman is claimed to have died, and deported. On the flight back to Beijing the drama ramped even further with a pet dog on board, a poisoned inflight meal, calls for any doctors on the flight and an attempt at CPR.

What did the critics say about Red Eye?

Richard Amritage and Jing Lusi at the airport in Red Eye (ITV)
Some critics said Red Eye was fun viewing, but others called it boring and forgettable. (ITV

The reviews for Red Eye are mixed. Some critics enjoyed the over-the-top and superficial plot.

Anita Singh of The Telegraph commented: '"If you’re the kind of person who watches a drama and cries: 'But that would never happen!' then this one is best avoided. But if you’re in the mood for some mindless fun, then buckle up. What can I tell you? It’s the kind of drama in which the intelligence services want to shred company documents without anyone knowing, then walk out of the company’s front door in full view of the public carrying the shredded paper in see-through boxes."

But Nick Hilton of The Independent claims the drama is boring. Hilton wrote: "Silly, sure; derivative, yes; but just about watchable – even if only in the way that the in-flight map is watchable after a few too many bloody marys."

And William Mata of the Evening Standard claimed: "Red Eye desperately wants to be Locke, Steven Knight’s 2013 thriller where Tom Hardy’s character works out his personal and professional struggles while driving down the M6. Instead of that originality we have a tired thriller that might just about service you for a red eye flight of your own if there is nothing else on."

How did viewers react to the first episode?

Richard Amritage and Jing Lusi on the plane in Red Eye (ITV)
Red Eye was too unrealistic for some viewers, while others found it thrilling. (ITV)

Just like the critics, viewers also had a split opinion of the show. While most agreed the extreme plot was ridiculous and implausible - they still enjoyed it.

One wrote on social media platform X: "Bit far fetched but it's a bit of sunday night escapism, and it has the terminally fit Richard Armitage in it!!All good for me #RedEye"

While another said: "Why can’t people just enjoy a Fictional drama for what it is?? Instead of ripping every little detail to shreds! It’s a story! It’s not a documentary!! Just enjoy it for what it is! Best thing that has been on for weeks! #redeye"

And another commented: "I don’t know if #redeye is good or not, but I find myself drawn to ITV Player to watch the next episode. It’s either good, or so bad it’s good. I really can’t tell."

Many were hooked and quickly started binge-watching the series on ITVX. One shared: "Have just watched the opening episode of #RedEye, which is at once totally implausible and utterly gripping ......."

While another posted: "Red Eye is so preposterous that I’m immediately going on to ITVx to binge watch the rest of the ridiculousness"

But for others watching, they struggled to believe the overblown situation and claimed aspects, such as the CPR attempts, were unrealistic.

One tweeted: "What a load of rubbish, not sure if it’s meant to be this bad? #RedEye"

Another exclaimed: "Why do these contemporary “dramas” have to be so unrealistic? None of the stuff we have just seen would ever happen. Do they think we’re all stupid? #redeye"

And another scoffed: "#RedEye You can always trust ITV to bring us the most comedic pathetic Sunday night 'dramas.'"

And some viewers seemed mostly concerned about the dog - who ate the potentially contaminated food. Spoiler alert: The dog doesn't make it.

Red Eye continues on ITV1 on Sunday 27 April at 9pm and all episodes are available on ITVX and STV Player.

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