Eagle Eye (2008)
Release Date: September 26th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: D.J. Caruso Actors: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Azizi, Cameron Boyce
erry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is an unambitious, underachieving, neglectful, and rather manipulative delinquent who skipped out on college and now barely gets by working at a copy shop. When Jerry’s apartment is inexplicably sent large amounts of explosives and hi-tech weaponry, a cryptic caller informs him that he has been “activated” and must perform several tasks or face death. Also dragged into the deadly conspiracy is Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother who must work with Jerry or risk the life of her young son. Together they must unravel the mystery behind the threatening caller, all while being hunted by the FBI, the military, and the all-seeing eyes of a force capable of controlling every facet of computer technology.
The premise in “Eagle Eye” backs itself into a nearly inescapable corner. Only nearly, however, because there is a way out – and that is to breach the realm of the truly unbelievable, an arena that can be successfully treaded if done right. But instead of finding a unique angle to solve the fantastical mystery, “Eagle Eye” opts to retrace the footsteps of countless other films – to the point that audiences will be left reeling with déjà vu. A few clever action sequences and some sparsely scattered one-liners aren’t enough to overcome the dreadfully recycled happenings, leaving viewers with a project that could have been a remake, would have been original with some much-needed tweaks, and maybe shouldn’t have been made.
Shia LaBeouf smartly portrays the fast-talking, quick-thinking, Hitchcockian fish-out-of-water everyman mistakenly confused with his in-too-deep counterpart. He brings an enthusiastic charisma to his role and feeds off the energy of his costars. These kinds of performances rarely tire – but unfortunately these kinds of movies do. While Shia offers up as much bravado as he can, his cohorts run into the dire situation of becoming stock characters, ones who don’t receive enough screen time to become interesting, and sadly wouldn’t be even if they did. Other than Billy Bob Thornton, who gleams as a sarcastic, slightly foul-mouthed, wisecracking FBI agent, the rest of the cast is easily forgotten. Michelle Monaghan only provides a tagalong, worried mother and not much else, while Rosario Dawson’s stern air force investigator and Michael Chiklis as the Secretary of Defense both feel utterly wasted as ultimately trivial pieces of an incomplex puzzle.
The mystery is far more entertaining than the answers, which is a shame since audiences learn (or can easily predict) the true nature behind the omniscient Eagle Eye system early on. Once they realize the direction in which the plot is headed, it becomes a mess of derivative ideas remembered from numerous other pictures. Heavily borrowed elements from Hitchcock, Kubrick, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “The Matrix,” “I, Robot,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and many others. If a filmmaker is going to steal ideas, they might as well take from the best. But oddly, “Eagle Eye” doesn’t heed this advice, instead liberally lifting from the best, the worst, and everything in-between.
– Joel Massie