Friday, October 3, 2008

Eagle Eye *

Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan
Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Ethan Embry

An exercise in preposterousness, "Eagle Eye" might very well be the most expensive rant against the Patriot Act ever conceived.
Yet to give this film any sort of political connotations is to shower it with the kindness and goodwill it doesn't care to provide its audience.
LaBeouf stars as Jerry Shaw, a twenty something slacker who comes home one day to find his apartment filled with explosives, weapons and forged documents.
His cell phone rings and a female voice warns him that the FBI will be there any minute and that he must escape.
Simultaneously, young single mother Rachel Holloman (Monaghan) is contacted by the same female voice who warns her that her little son will be killed unless she follows specific orders.
Soon Rachel and Jerry find themselves teaming up to complete the mission given by the mysterious voice, who contacts them through strangers' cell phones, TV screens, aiport signs, moving cranes and every other device short of a coconut phone or smoke signals.
The unlikely team finds itself travelling across the country while being followed by FBI agents (Thornton, Embry and Dawson each as exchangeable as the other) and uncovering a horrific plan forged by the most unexpected source. And not because of the source itself, but the channel, which is as lazy an excuse for a filmmaker as the "it was all a dream" device in literature.
LaBeouf is as always a charming and semi-reliable screen presence (although you may sometimes wonder how many shocked expressions he can come up with during one sequence), Monaghan is nothing but ornament and the rest of the characters could've been played by computers and nobody would've known the difference.
If there is any political connotaion within this film it might come in the opposing creative forces that are so obvious watching what the director was going for (and judging from his filmography it's easy to guess) and the bigger need to give the movie some brains.
Because "Eagle Eye" would be a decent, popcorn thriller if it didn't try at some point to become meaningful (which one can't help but assume was influence of executive producer Steven Spielberg), because whatever it thinks it has to say gets lost among the tons of car chases, explosions and quick cuts.
While Caruso obviously wanted to pay homage to the "ordinary man in extraordinary situation" brilliance of Hitchcock (even if LaBeouf is definitely no Jimmy Stewart and Thornton no Cary Grant), the rest of the plot feels like it's trying too hard to expose just how awful and scary technology is.
The director steals key moments from "North by Northwest" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much", but before you can say "que será será", there's a flash of "2001: a Space Odyseey" and the film has become self parody.
Going out of "Eagle Eye", after spending half the movie texting your friends warning them not to see it, you'll realize that the only thing it leaves you with is the bittersweet aftertaste that comes with realizing that even a computer would vote Democrat.

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