20 March 2009

Movie Review: Eagle Eye


Eagle Eye
2008, 117mins, PG-13
Director: DJ Caruso
writer (s): Travis Wright, John Glenn, Dan McDermott, Hillary Seitz
Cast includes: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ethan Embry
Release Date: 26th September 2008

Eagle Eye is a shockingly disappointing experience, a film with a decent idea at it’s centre and marking the follow up gig for director DJ Caruso after last year’s excellent Disturbia, is surprisingly likely to finish amongst the years very worst. I found myself confident after the 15 minute mark that Caruso was about to deliver another memorable thriller but somehow after this watershed the whole affair goes belly up in most distressing of fashions. Watching Eagle Eye is like briefly seeing a Whale in its element, gracefully moving through the ocean, then suddenly being subjected to 100 minutes of it lying washed up on a beach. With added explosions.

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) was once a promising student but now spends his days winning money off his overweight buddies in poker games and working in a Copy store. After the surprise death of his brother Jerry returns distressed to his apartment to find a huge arsenal of weaponry delivered to his door and with a considerably larger bank balance. Shocked at the findings he is quickly contacted by a voice on his phone telling him to leave his apartment as the FBI are on their way, and if caught with all these lethal gadgets he has no way to beg innocence. On the other side of town Rachel Hollomon (Michelle Monaghan) has just received a mystery call aswell, on this occasion however the speaker threatens her sons life if she doesn’t agree to obey. After a series of chases Rachel and Jerry are thrown together, constantly getting new calls giving them new tasks and commands to complete. As the pair leave a trail of destruction behind them they’re tracked by Federal agents (Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton) trying to clue together why these seemingly normal citizens are doing this - a question that Jerry and Rachel are also desperately seeking an answer to.

The performances in Eagle Eye are sub-par at best though that might have more to do with the dismal script. LaBeouf struggles to hold the screen despite having done it so effortlessly in both Disturbia and Transformers, Jerry just isn’t a very nice guy and thus LaBeoufs natural comic ability and charisma are rarely exploited. Still at least he’s given slightly more than a walking cliché to play with, good actors like Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson are wasted in thankless and generic roles. This is largely down to the frustratingly basic character conception present in the screenplay, that scribe Dan McDermott has written entity’s so bland that none of that ensemble can draw a decent performance is a worrying prospect. Monaghan in particular is given a stunningly boring character and yet huge amounts of screentime a potent cocktail for any cinema audience to endure.
The idea which the story is based around is pretty solid for a thriller basically suggesting that through technology are entire lives could be controlled and tampered with. At the films heart is an important message concerning the amount of heavy surveillance we have to endure in society, sadly it’s wrapped in one of the most idiotic and outright boring scripts I’ve had the pleasure of seeing up on the screen. Every moment throws up some sort of ludicrous set piece, illogical motive or giant plot hole all as mind numbing as the next. One can only assume that filmmaker DJ Caruso thought he’d be able to draw out the films context despite the vast quantities of Hollywood pap on show, but based on the final product he’s come up with his confidence was ill placed.

A little human development is taken in the film’s opening and easily best section, the portion of the picture where the inane story arc has yet to fire up. I found myself engaged during this minor segment and with a sense of promise starting to radiate from the movie - the fact that the following 100 minutes where so lousy may have made me even more bitter. One ponders if Eagle Eye would have been better if it were purely rubbish from start to finish, the fact that it’s actually good for a quarter of an hour only serves to disappoint the audience further.
In honestly the action is to rapidly edited and CGI fuelled to really thrill, nearly every sequence where something potentially exciting happen is cut together far to speedily and jumpy to satisfy the audience. After all it’s hard to get the adrenaline pumping when what Is up on screen is a blurred mess for half the time. This might be the movies biggest flaw of all, even though it’s badly written and ludicrous in the extreme if Caruso had provided some solid action moments it would have minor salvation. Sadly what we’re offered is like Michael Bay on speed and lacking even the faintest idea of just how silly it really is.

I would like to say a few nice things about Eagle Eye but that Is a tough stance to take, the first 15 minutes work and sections of the music are quite good but in reality that Is about as far as compliments can go with this one. Even those who thrive on IQ deflating action movies will be offended by the sheer stupidity that is shown here and Shia LaBeouf’s star power will be tested after word of how bad this flaccid turkey is gets out. One hopes the talented Caruso moves past this career hiccup fast and that for the rest of us we’re able to forget we wasted two hours of our lives on this dross.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2008


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