Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and for language.
Release Date: 2008-09-26
Starring: John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz, Dan McDermott
Official Website: http://www.eagleeyemovie.com/
This movie tests the viewing public’s tolerance for enduring crass stupidity when the payoff is a series of repetitive, ADD infected chase scenes. Director D.J. Caruso (paired again with his leading man from Disturbia) does a moderately good job of hiding how incredibly dumb this screenplay is by keeping things moving at such a whirlwind pace that a lot more seems to be happening than actually is. In reality, the chase scenes don’t mean anything because they don’t advance the plot – it’s mice on a treadmill, running and running and not getting anywhere. The hope is that the edits will come so fast and furious and the music will be so loud and the actors will display such expressions of near-panic that maybe viewers will mistake all this chaos for suspense.
Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a good-for-nothing layabout: a Stanford drop-out who earns a living by working at a copy store while making a few extra bucks on the side playing cards. One day, he stops by an ATM machine to withdraw some money and discovers that there’s $750,000 in his account. He gets home to find his apartment filled floor-to-ceiling with illegal weapons and bomb-making ingredients. He then receives a mysterious call on his cell phone telling him that if he doesn’t get out in 30 seconds, he’ll be arrested.
Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is a single mother sending her son off on a trip. While he’s away, she spends a night out on the town with her girlfriends. A call from her “son” lures her out of a bar onto a street, but the voice on the other end of the phone is the same mysterious caller who warned Jerry. Rachel is informed that unless she completes a series of actions, the train carrying her son will derail and he will be killed. Rachel does as she’s told and is brought face-to-face with Jerry. Together, these two go on a convoluted trip to do the bidding of the voice, which has the power to control electronic devices all around the world to get them where they’re supposed to go.
The film’s central flaw (although by far not its only one) is not difficult to discern. If an entity has the ability to access and control all networked computers and electronic devices around the world, giving it virtually limitless power, why does it need a couple of human beings to do its bidding? And, even if it chooses to use them, why send them on such an unbelievably long and convoluted wild goose chase when the same end could have been accomplished more simply. This issue looms so large that it is impossible to be ignored by anyone who allows a moment’s thought to pass through his mind while watching Eagle Eye. The movie was made for the brain dead, the catatonic, and those who have taken allergy medicine and are unable to stay awake.
The average positive review of this film will remark that “it’s a fun ride if you turn off your brain.” I’m not sure why anyone would want to turn off their brain, since that’s the organ where the body’s pleasure centers are located. Even granting that, when it comes to dumb popcorn movies, Eagle Eye is nowhere near the top. What makes the film even more disappointing is its veneer of social commentary about nonstop surveillance and the omnipotence of computers. These things are red herrings that, like Caruso’s frantically edited chase scenes, are designed to camouflage the bankruptcy of the writing. Should this film be a huge box office success, it will stand as a sad testament to how low the bar for cinematic entertainment has been set.