Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic
This unoriginal dud has nothing to say.
Eagle Eye doesn’t have one original thought or idea in its empty head. It has one of the more preposterous plots that I’ve seen in a very long time and I see a lot of movies. It’s one of those films that we watch with incredulity hoping that we’ll see something worthwhile along the way but other than a solid performance by Billy Bob Thornton, there’s nothing there. Lately we’ve seen films about terrorism and films about spying so it was inevitable that we’d get a hybrid of those two themes and here it is.
Shia LaBeouf (did he grow up quick or what?) is Jerry Shaw, a copy “associate” as he calls himself who works at a local copy store in Chicago. His twin brother has just been killed in a traffic accident and Jerry heads home to find that his father (William Sadler) still doesn’t approve of his choices in life. Soon after the funeral Jerry discovers that his bank account suddenly has $750,000 in it and his apartment is loaded with boxes containing various types of explosives and ammunition. He receives a call where a female voice tells him that he’s been “activated” and that he has thirty seconds to get out of his apartment before the F.B.I shows up. Thirty seconds later he’s arrested for being a terrorist.
Jerry pleads to the agent in charge of the investigation, Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) telling him that he’s been set up and that he doesn’t know what’s going on. Morgan thinks that it has something to do with his Jerry’s brother who worked for the military and he just might be right. Shortly thereafter Jerry gets another call with the same female voice telling him that he’s about to be freed from F.B.I headquarters and before he knows it a giant crane is catapulted through a window allowing him to escape.
If this seems ludicrous so far I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of how silly much of Eagle Eye really is. The female voice is able to call Jerry not only on his own cell phone but on stranger’s cell phones as well. It tells him to do things and if he doesn’t there will be consequences to pay. Whoever is controlling things seems to be able to do whatever needs to be done including switching traffic lights from red to green, de-railing subway cars and sending messages to Jerry through television sets and public information signs. He gets messages such as “Turn right” or “Jerry- head to Gate 3” on a regular basis. I’m finding that I can’t even write this stuff with a straight face.
There’s also a woman named Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) who is getting similar phone calls which tell her to comply or her son will be killed. It is somehow arranged by this mysterious voice for Jerry and Rachel to connect (even though I’m still not sure how that ends up happening) and work together to complete a “mission” that the voice demands of them. It has something to do with the state of the union address that the President is about to give and it also involves the death of some high ranking government officials.
Eagle Eye wants to say something about our current government spying program which is designed to look out for terrorist activity but which we know has taken Orwell’s 1984 to its most frightening extreme; this includes the “Patriot Act.” This in itself isn’t a bad idea at all but since there is so much that’s truly scary in our world as it stands, I have to wonder why the filmmakers felt the need to exaggerate to the extent of such absurdity. One doesn’t have to reach so far to make a film that lives within a realistic margin of the programs that are currently spying on all of us. Eagle Eye also wants to include elements from previous film such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (computer goes haywire) The Fugitive (man is wrongfully accused of a crime) and even North by Northwest (there’s even a scene where Jerry and Rachel find themselves in an open field at the mercy of the “voice”). It gets to the point where the film doesn’t have an identity of its own. Heck, the film even takes place in Chicago just like The Fugitive, but with Thornton in the Tommy Lee Jones role.
Now there are fewer people more liberal than I but Eagle Eye can’t be described as anything less than Hollywood paranoia at its worst. Yes our government has headed down a slippery slope but if things ever got to the point where they are in this film I doubt very much that they would be able to keep it secret. Did I mention that in the end all it really takes is a good direct shot into the eye of what is causing all of these problems to shut it down? It’s too bad someone didn’t know that earlier because then we wouldn’t have had to sit through two hours of nonsense.