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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.08%
Worth A Look: 26.53%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad30.61%
Total Crap: 24.49%

4 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Eagle Eye
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by Erik Childress

"The Wings Of Liberty Lose A Few Feathers"
4 stars

Your enjoyment of the new cyber thriller Eagle Eye will be solely dependent on just how far you can stretch your disbelief and how much stock you want to put in the message of technology literally controlling our lives. How many scenarios have you seen where a caller with a spooky voice phones a protagonist and forces them to play some life-or-death game. You can go back to the original Dirty Harry, update it to In the Line of Fire and sidestep it to variations from Ransom to Scream and Saw to this year’s 88 Minutes and still have countless entries left off the list. The technology angle is just as prominent in various thrillers, each of them offspring in some way of the warning we received in 1968 from Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke with the release of 2001. With Steven Spielberg’s involvement prominently displayed with Eagle Eye, the Kubrickian Hitchcock elements are out front and personal, but director D.J. Caruso keeps things nicely slick and swift so the film reminds you, maybe not of those legends, but certainly of someone like John Badham at his 1983 peak.

Jerry Shaw’s (Shia LaBeouf) daily excitement comes during his breaktime when he’s sleek-talking co-workers into poker bets. Other than that he’s a college dropout working nights at a Chicago copy store. The first bad piece of news Jerry gets over the phone comes from home as his twin brother has died; an air force operative struck down in an auto accident. The second comes soon after he’s discovered 750 grand in his bank account and a delivery of ammonium nitrate and a small arsenal to his small apartment. The woman on the other end tells him the FBI is on the way and before he knows what’s going on he’s arrested under suspicion of terrorism. Across town, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) receives a similar phone call, only this one threatens her son’s life if she doesn’t take a car to await a passenger and wait for further instructions. That passenger turns out to be Jerry who is presented with an opportunity, or more to the point – an order - to escape and the pair go on the run.

On their trail is Agent Robert Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), a hard-ass who doesn’t believe a word of Jerry’s story but does believe that his new partner and him couldn’t have pulled off the insane intricacies of their journey on their own. Morgan is also joined briefly by Air Force investigator Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) who wants to explore an angle involving Jerry’s twin and who is soon called away by the Secretary of Defense (Michael Chiklis) who has a big piece of the puzzle thirty-six floors below the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Jerry and Rachel are forced to reach locations on schedule and are frequently horrified by how much knowledge this mysterious organization has on them right up to their every move. Seemingly with control over literally anything in their path including security cameras, traffic lights, power lines and their own car you’re either along with every implausibly elaborate setup or yelling “oh, come on” once the secrets are unveiled halfway through.

My own brand of “oh, come on” was the variation that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing but accepted it with a mixture of nutty enthusiasm and the level of conspiratorial paranoia that I’m sure Spielberg is drawing from. You have to understand that this was once a filmmaker who during production on Used Cars couldn’t believe that a Congressional candidate would be trying to get elected in hopes of obtaining graft. Now, like most of the country since 9/11 and eight years of questionable tactics we’ve come to our escapist flicks unable to avoid cautionary extremism and unsubtle lines like “we’re not going to be the assholes who allow this to happen.”

Certainly there will be those who go the other way on Eagle Eye and have different ideas on who the “assholes” really are. How dare they invoke the memory of 2001 with a giant computer memory bank enforced by a giant lit pupil? (Even Anthony Mackie’s airman is named Bowman.) Clearly you can’t hide such reference points with such an iconic film. WALL-E had multiple homages as well and Eagle Eye, as stated, never opts for subtlety when it comes to borrowing from the best, whether it be A Space Odyssey, WarGames or The Fugitive. Two chase scenes, in particular, from the city streets to a junkyard and a ride through the airport’s luggage conveyors are nicely done and I appreciated the film not letting up at one possible conclusion only to extend the race against time under even further ludicrous circumstances except with a lot more skill and fun than similarly-vibed dreck like Stealth, Wanted and xXx: State of the Union.

Underlying the non-stop pursuit and questionable reality is the warning that we have somehow failed to heed over four decades of fiction predicated by science. In ’68 it was the HAL 9000 ignoring life over the mission. In ’79 it was Ash and Mother dooming the Nostromo. 1983 had a whopper computer of its own and even 25 years ago John Badham was contemplating the Big Brother aspect of technological advancement invading our privacy in Blue Thunder. James Cameron introduced Skynet in the year of the Orwell and flash forwarding to just a few months ago, as a response to the current administration’s potential intrusion into our lives, even The Dark Knight himself spied on all of Gotham to find the bad guy and thusly destroyed his method when the battle was won. At the heart of all of Eagle Eye’s nonsense are the same questions to whether convenience is worth losing our liberties and the radical idea that maybe the new and improved HAL really has the country’s (and the world’s) best interests at heart. Or simply that our government’s insistence on being less involved and ignoring the facts has turned us into the true terrorists.

Eagle Eye’s two hours fly by and after you leave it’s best to conduct a manual shutdown yourself since it wouldn’t take long for you to begin questioning the adversary’s methods to achieve its goal. Seems since the whole plan is dependent on getting Jerry to be in the right spot at the right moment, that placing him in constant danger is extremely counterproductive. The WOPR had learned its lesson by the end, but Eagle Eye’s antagonist somehow missed the programming seminar of force majeures and deus ex machinas involving unmotivated slackers taking on the FBI and armed guards. Out of curiosity I would love to have seen their backup plan. Unlike last week’s Lakeview Terrace which attempted to examine social issues within the framework of a psycho thriller, Eagle Eye doesn’t waffle in trying to be one or the other. Once it puts its foot to the floor, it never looks back on how batty it gets in its complexity. Caruso’s previous collaboration with LaBeouf, last year’s Disturbia, was barely a poor man’s Rear Window. It may be sacrilege to call Eagle Eye this generation’s WarGames, but its level of believability is certainly the same, it’s entertainment value comparable if not quite the same league and, 25 years later, the technology is better, more available and therefore scarier. Especially when you know who has had their fingers on the button(s) for the last eight years.

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originally posted: 09/26/08 14:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2008 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2008 series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell silly but exciting 4 stars
5/07/10 BAReFOOt Switched off after the IT’S A TRAP scene at the beginning. Too fuckin’ retarded! 1 stars
2/24/10 Peter North I'd like to drill Monaghan's eagle eye....beside that, movie stunk. too predictable. 3 stars
9/06/09 kmsj a didnt understand the movie but, its enjoyable. 3 stars
8/28/09 JJ logic is gone , so are my precious hours 1 stars
8/13/09 Dan Even drunk this would be impossible to enjoy. Just so dumb. 1 stars
7/13/09 mr.mike It was aight. 4 stars
4/20/09 Beau Despite the farfetched moments, the film was quite enjoyable 4 stars
2/17/09 Matt Cool car chases, but the most turdsome screenplay in living memory 2 stars
1/21/09 mike car chase was the best ever. awesome movie 5 stars
1/07/09 Ubias Black Guy Totally fell asleep watching this but according to the review I ddin't miss much. 3 stars
1/06/09 gc lots of chases, running around from one place to the next, but where's the plot here? 2 stars
1/02/09 action movie fan evil super computer scapegoats labeouf and others-some action overdone,but a fun movie stil 4 stars
12/30/08 Jon G fun movie with stupid ending 4 stars
12/07/08 matt hey kid, i'm a computer. stop all the downloadin. preposterous but fun. 4 stars
12/04/08 Anthony Feor Un-inspired storyline and choppy editing outpaces good performances 1 stars
11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 1 stars
10/22/08 Erik This is your basic popcorn flick don't expect much 3 stars
10/05/08 IndyFan wow.....take a pill.... 3 stars
10/04/08 Samantha Pruitt fast pased and a lot of action, great car chase! 4 stars
10/04/08 Bethany I thought it was amazing, with Shia as good as usual 5 stars
9/29/08 George Barksdale Exciting in spots, but get impression I have seen this before. Than realize I have. 3 stars
9/28/08 Roy It makes less than no sense at all. 2 stars
9/27/08 Bob dumb movie 3 stars
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  26-Sep-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Dec-2008


  DVD: 28-Dec-2008

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