ITV's Red Eye with Richard Armitage is the most ridiculous drama you'll ever see

ITV's Red Eye with Richard Armitage is the most ridiculous drama you'll ever see

Realism was never high on Red Eye's agenda, but ITV's latest thriller never seemed grounded in any reality. At least Leicestershire's Richard Armitage lit up screens in what is one of the most consistently ridiculous dramas of recent times.

From the outset this killer conspiracy drama set on a non-stop flight to China lacked realism - especially when a vegan dish claimed a life - but there had been glimmers that it could become more serious at times. Sadly they were short lived as it decided to throw everything unrealistic it could at the screen and hope for the best. The end result is a messy drama which will have you rolling your eyes so much that they might be stuck on a carousel.

There’s nothing wrong with ludicrous dramas - far from it - but when there’s great promise in the plot and a good solid cast led by Huncote-born Richard - you expect more. Fans of a brooding bearded Armitage showing off a seriously infected stab wound will lap it though as there’s plenty of this across Red Eye’s six episodes.

READ MORE: Leicestershire stars and stories nominated for National Television Awards

Promotional photo of ITV drama Red Eye with Richard Armitage and Jing Lusi
Richard Armitage and Jing Lusi carry much of Red Eye's ridiculous baggage -Credit:Jonathan Ford/Bad Wolf/Sony Pictures Television

After being accused of a murder he didn’t commit, Richard’s Dr Matthew Nolan is arrested, made to strip off and then forced on a plane to China after being handcuffed by stern cop DC Hana Li (Jing Lusi). The last thing you’d expect a suspected criminal to do is sample many G&Ts on this flight and then help perform rudimentary post-mortems as the bodies pile up, but he does - and no-one bats an eyelid at it.

This viewer in particular was nonplussed at the high body count as Red Eye doesn’t make you care for the victims of this wider US-UK-China conspiracy involving Dr Nolan and DC Li. Frankly you wouldn’t care if either of them get bumped off either as more or less a good chunk of the show’s main cast doesn’t make an episode’s end credits, so caring for them at all is a big ask.

Time is the biggest bugbear though as this 18-hour flight to China seems to operate on a different planet to the rest of the world. As MI5 investigates the plane conspiracy back home, four days seem to pass in the same time that only three hours have passed in the sky. Now that is weird.

Speaking of MI5, when their boss Madeline Delaney (Lesley Sharp) isn’t bonking her buddy from the CIA while her husband is bed-bound at home, she seems permanently perplexed by events. To be fair, viewers are too as nothing makes sense despite many attempts at exposition from a host of side-characters who we never learn the name of. Sharp is reliable as ever from an acting perspective, but the biggest shame is how little she, Lusi and Armitage share the screen as the moments they do have as a trio are among the strongest character points of the series.

Promotional photo of ITV's Red Eye with Richard Armitage and Lesley Sharp
There is great potential in the fleeting moments Richard shares the screen with Lesley Sharp -Credit:Robert Viglasky/Bad Wolf/Sony Pictures Television

Fans of the BBC’s Top Gear will also get a nice surprise during Red Eye as the motoring show’s test track at Dunsfold Airbase makes an unexpected cameo, but there’s no sight of Jeremy Clarkson in a Ferrari. Instead, you get Lesley Sharp revving a Vauxhall Vectra - it's not quite the same is it?

The best way to experience Red Eye is to truly disengage from the plot and sit back and let it happen. Maybe have a G&T to hand as well just like Dr Nolan does. That way you won’t question the sheer stupidity of the plot at times which Leicestershire’s Richard does his best to make somewhat realistic. He gives a good performance on screen and his partnership with Lusi is perhaps the strongest element of the entire drama as they do much of the heavy lifting on what is a plot sagging in ridiculousness.

Richard has previously spoken of the desire to see more from Red Eye’s main characters, but will viewers? It’s hard to say. There’s worse ways to spend six hours, but there’s definitely better too. The full series of Red Eye can be streamed on ITVX now.

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