Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations using technology - and a threat to Rachel's young son - to track and control their every move. Their mission is unknown to them, but seems to be somehow connected to Jerry's recently killed twin brother. Security agencies are tracking and chasing them, led by Agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). As the situation escalates, they are pawns of a faceless enemy who seems to have limitless power to manipulate everything they do.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's presented as a thriller, and it is, but Eagle Eye is also a political film. It's not a very good political film, nor is it a very good thriller, ironically enough because it wants to be very good at both. The cluttered story in overly ambitious hands only starts to make sense about two thirds through; I was looking at my watch at the one hour mark. In that first hour, the film plays as if it had been financed by the auto industry, with dozens of vehicles wrecked in elaborate crashes that are shot in violent close up, blurring any sense of their real world physicality. (The high tech elements look like a combo of ideas from Minority Report, Terminator and the high end of the Bond & Bourne films.)
While a thriller plot doesn't need to be crystal clear from the start, it needs to engage us; Eagle Eye's too clever by half plot doesn't engage, because the mystery (and motive) of the female voice commanding our hero and heroine is left unresolved too long - but also because without knowing that, everything that happens seems risible. But even when we do learn why the absurdly incredible things happen, they remain absurdly incredible.
The problem I face is that I don't want to reveal elements of the thriller that should be discovered during the film - so I'm talking about them in a roundabout way. The political elements are another matter. The film begins with an appropriately high tech sequence of US military tracking a high ranking terror suspect in the Middle East. Despite the sexy techtoys, the intelligence brigade can't be 100% sure if it's a funeral or an arms cache they are attending, and with approval from the President himself, the strike goes ahead.
The political element of the film takes this example of US action as its editorial starting point, and goes on to a) create the motivation for the elimination of the US command structure on the grounds that such actions trigger anti-US reprisals, and b) asserts that security systems intended to safeguard ordinary Americans can become tools used against them. Never mind the self-contradictory nature of these ideas in this one film, the concepts are too simplistic on the one hand, but too burdensome on the screenplay on the other.
Shia LaBoeuf and Michelle Monaghan are convincing as the hapless pawns in this game (but don't try to analyse why they are) and Billy Bob Thornton is solid as the sharp edged security heavy. All the supports are excellent, and with a more disciplined screenplay, they could have boasted of being part of a decent thriller.
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EAGLE EYE (M)
CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie
PRODUCER: Pat Crowley, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
DIRECTOR: D. J. Caruso
SCRIPT: John Glenn, Dan McDermott, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski
EDITOR: Jim Page
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Sanders
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.