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Overall Rating
2.52

Awesome: 4.17%
Worth A Look: 25%
Average: 14.58%
Pretty Bad31.25%
Total Crap: 25%

4 reviews, 24 user ratings


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Eagle Eye
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Oh Big Brother!"
1 stars

The late, great Alfred Hitchcock used to specialize in film in which an innocent man found himself accused of a crime that he didn’t commit and doggedly tried to get to the bottom of the conspiracy that he found himself embroiled in while avoiding the pursuing hordes who were unaware that he was nothing but a patsy being framed--“The 39 Steps,” “Saboteur” and “North by Northwest” immediately leap to mind as the key works in which he deployed this particular formula. However, the dirty little secret about these movies is that is you actually sat and tried to analyze them strictly from a story perspective, you would quickly realize that they made absolutely no sense at all on virtually any level. (Seriously, try and recount the actual story of “North by Northwest” sometime--I guarantee that the sheer amount of illogic contained in that storyline will actually cause your head to explode after a few minutes.) The reason that Hitchcock managed to get away with such nonsense was because he provided viewers with enough distractions--fascinating characters, brilliantly devised set-pieces filled with thrills and suspense and, most importantly, a droll sense of humor that reminded you that it was all a lark--so that they didn’t realize that the story they had just watched was a load of hooey until they had gotten home from the theater and were rooting around in the refrigerator for a late-night snack. (He even went so far as to nickname this approach “kitchen logic.”) Having successfully pilfered Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and resold it to audiences too young to realize that they were being served leftovers with last year’s dreadful and wildly popular “Disturbia,” executive-producer Steven Spielberg, director D.J. Caruso and star Shia LaBeouf have decided to once again raid the Master of Suspense’s filmography with “Eagle Eye,” a blatant rip-off of those aforementioned innocent-man-on-the-run thrillers that I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, while they have the whole incoherent plot thing down to a science, they have neglected to provide any of the kind of distractions that might have kept us from ignoring the countless lapses in logic and enormous plot holes, unless you count endless explosions, one-note characters and virtually no sense of humor about itself as distractions

LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, an underachieving dolt whose response to constantly living in the shadow of his more accomplished twin brother, an Air Force officer has been to drop out of college and eke out a living as a clerk at a copy store. When he gets word that his brother has been killed in a tragic traffic accident, he attends the funeral, opens up a couple of old wounds with his stern father (William Sadler) and returns home to find $750,000 in his bank account and enough guns, ammo and fertilizer in his dilapidated third-floor walkup to make him look like a prime terrorist suspect. At this point, he gets a call from a mysterious female voice informing him that he must leave the apartment and do everything that she says or he will be arrested by the FBI. Naturally, he doesn’t comply and get busted by the Feds, led by Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), who just as naturally doesn’t believe a word of Jerry’s tale that he is being framed. Through circumstances too contrived to get into(which happens with depressing regularity here), Jerry is left alone to make a phone call and winds up getting patched through to the mysterious voice again who helps him to escape and leads him to a car containing Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mom who has also been bombarded with calls from this all-seeing, all-knowing voice insisting that if she doesn’t follow directions, the train carrying her adorable kid to a band concert in Washington D.C. will be violently derailed.

From this point on, the lives of Jerry and Rachel begin to resemble a PG-13 version of “Grand Theft Auto” as the voice over the phone (which also seems to be able to control computers, traffic lights, power lines and, horror of horrors, the home theater section of Circuit City) orders them to perform one ridiculous task after another that involves causing public spectacles and enormous amounts of property damage that never really seem to be noticed by anyone else. While they are being jerked around from one place to another while trying to avoid capture and figure out who is doing this them and why, Agent Morgan and Air Force rep Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson) are leading the pursuit. However, it soon begins to dawn on them that there is no possible way that Jerry and Rachel could be solely responsible for everything that has happened (such as the cranes that mysteriously appeared to pluck police cars from the ground during a chase in a junkyard or the fact that security cameras have a tendency to go on the fritz wherever they appear) and they begin separately pursuing the possibility that someone else is behind all of this. Eventually, we discover that it all has something to do with Jerry’s late brother and a military strike in Iraq that went ahead despite the warnings of the Secretary of Defense (Michael Chiklis) that we witnessed in the prologue. I could explain to you who is behind all of this and how all these elements tie together but I won’t--partly because I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprises for you and partly because if I did, you would just call me a liar because you couldn’t believe that anyone would come up with an explanation that utterly idiotic.

Somewhere buried deep down in the morass of “Eagle Eye” is a potentially interesting premise for a paranoid post-9/11 thriller about the ways in which the technological advances that we have come to rely on without hesitation in our daily lives can be turned against us by forces that we don’t know for reasons that we can’t understand--someone like Larry Cohen (who touched on such conceits in his screenplays for “Phone Booth” and “Cellular”) could have easily milked this premise into the kind of smart, efficient and modest B-movie that hardly gets made anymore these days. Unfortunately, the words “smart,” “efficient” and “modest” clearly do not exist in the collective vocabularies of screenwriters John Glenn & Travis Wright and Hillary Seitz and Dan McDermott--instead of trying to keep their story as close to something resembling reality as possible, they overblow every aspect of the film in order to impressive slack-jawed viewers that the sheer ridiculousness of the proceedings overwhelms whatever tension they were trying to build. For example, when Jerry arrives at his apartment to discover the unwanted terrorist supplies, there is so much stuff crammed into that small setting that the effect is more hilarious than ominous (it looks those times when Daffy Duck would strike a match and discover that he was in the world’s largest cache of dynamite)--so much so, if fact, that it would be impossible to read it as anything other than a frame job. Then there is the moment when the voice tries to quell Jerry’s momentary rebellion on an El train by calling every single cell phone on his car to inform their owners that a terrorist suspect is aboard and forcing him to jump out onto the tracks below--considering the fact that Jerry’s participation is absolutely essential for the plan to succeed, it seems odd that those in charge would put in him in a position where he could either be easily killed (either by the mob or the electrified tracks) or recaptured by an FBI that presumably wouldn’t be inclined to leave him alone for a second time. What is really dispiriting is that these moments occur in the early going, when the film is presumably trying to get us to buy into its premise, and things only get more ridiculous as things progress.

And trust me, you will be noticing all of these gaping logical flaws because the distractions that Hitchcock used to add to keep your from noticing them are in very short supply in “Eagle Eye.” For one thing, for a film that couldn’t be more ridiculous if it tried, it takes itself way too seriously for its own good--it actually seems to be working under the delusion that it is a smart thriller about the perils of technology gone wild despite all evidence to the contrary. The action-oriented sequences which come to dominate the proceedings as the film progresses are too wildly over-scaled to be believed (including a drone plane attack, countless shootouts and explosions and a car chase that is so over-the-top that it makes the one in “Wanted” look like an outtake from a Kiarostami film by comparison) and too poorly put together to work on the simple level of garish eye candy. Worst of all, and this is a fatal blow for a film whose entire success depends on us rooting for the main characters as they try to piece together the mystery that they are involved in, is the fact that our two heroes turn out to be complete non-entities without a glimmer of personality between them--LaBeouf is grating at best and comes across more like a sidekick than a leading man, the usually likable Monaghan is given virtually nothing to do and while this isn’t the type of movie that has the type to sketch out a plausible relationship between its main characters, the lack of chemistry between the two is palpable throughout. The only actors who manage to make any sort of impression are Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson, both of whom have the kind of personality that not even a load of crapola like this film can completely contain. When they are sharing the screen together, the chemistry between them is like a jolt to the heart and you may find yourself wishing that Caruso has cast them in the lead roles instead. Of course, in accordance with the spellbinding logic of the rest of the film, once it presents us with this pairing, which is easily the best idea on display, it almost immediately quashes it by splitting them up for the remainder of the story.

The final message of “Eagle Eye” is a warning about the dangers of putting technology in charge of the kinds of things best left decided by human beings who can better appreciate the nuance of a particular situation and act accordingly. This is ironic because the film itself seems to be based on a screenplay composed entirely by a computer programmed to spit out an action extravaganza without any real understanding of what makes such a thing work. . The result is two hours of absolute nonsense that is easily the noisiest action film to come around the pike since “Transformers” and quite possibly the dumbest one to boot.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17283&reviewer=389
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

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 PAUL SHORTT RUNNING, CRASHES, YELLING, AND NO STORY 1 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Sep-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Dec-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Sep-2008
  DVD: 28-Dec-2008




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