Movie Review for Eagle Eye (2008)

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Review #693 of 365
Movie Review of Eagle Eye (2008) [PG-13] 118 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.75
Where Viewed: Harkins Ciné Capri at Northfield 18, Denver, CO
When Seen: 26 September 2008 @ 10:35 am
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
Unsung Person from the Crew: Re-Recording Mixer—Bob Beemer
After the Credits: nothing

Soundtrack: Download now from Brian Tyler - Eagle Eye (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: D.J. Caruso (Disturbia)
Screenplay by: John Glenn (Drift) • Travis Wright (debut) • Hillary Seitz (Insomnia) • Dan McDermott ("Angela's Eyes") story by Dan McDermott

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) • Michelle Monaghan (Made of Honor) • Rosario Dawson (Death Proof) • Billy Bob Thornton (Mr. Woodcock) • Michael Chiklis (F4: Rise of Silver Surfer) • Anthony Mackie (We Are Marshall) • Ethan Embry (Vacancy) • Cameron Boyce (Mirrors) • Bill Smitrovich (Flash of Genius) • William Sadler (August Rush) • Deborah Strang ("Days of our Lives")

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In some ways, Eagle Eye is the first and only pure action thriller so far this year. The Dark Knight, Wanted, and Iron Man were more of the superhero genre with more action than thriller elements like Die Hard 4 or Bourne 3 were for last summer / year. Eagle Eye, directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan is a twisty thriller with a familiar feeling—think back to a film where a young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy are drawn into some government war games. The story, which unfurls at break-neck speed, begins, as all good government conspiracy theory movies do these days, with two little Middle Eastern boys running through the desert highlands that overlook their village. Then, from miles above the earth, we get satellite video footage in an ops room in at the Pentagon where Admiral Thompson (Bill Smitrovich) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in command. Some indications are that the man in the footage is on the most wanted terrorist list, but the computer cannot extrapolate sufficient facial recognition points to give a very positive ID. In bursts defense Secretary Callister (Michale Chiklis) to add fuel to the fire. More data is interpolated, but the computer still recommends a mission abort. Callister contacts the President who overrules the computer and the Secretary siding with Thompson who then orders remote controlled missile launches on the group which may be in the middle of a funeral by the looks of things.

… the first and only pure action thriller so far this year.
Shortly thereafter, in Chicago, Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), an associate at Copy Cabana and Stanford drop out, wins a back room poker game before heading home from his shift. Upon arrival, he's met with his dear, sweet, little old landlady who desperately wants the rent. He gives her some of the poker earnings, when his cell rings bringing him bad news. His twin brother Ethan, whom he's not seen in 3 years, has been killed in a freak accident in Washington, D.C. He goes to the funeral leading to an uncomfortable encounter with his father William (Willian Sadler) who's still gravely disappointed in his still-living son. Elsewhere in Chicago, a divorced mother of one, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), argues with her son, Sam (Cameron Boyce) to get ready to meet his dad. She ends up having to take the boy to the train station herself where he's meeting up with his band director as they've been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center. Dad shows up late with excuses, and she's not hearing them. Jerry heads home, but stops on the way at an ATM and is amazed to find his account now contains $750,000. He makes a withdrawal as the machine spits money all over the place. He gives two months rent to his landlady who's more preoccupied with the packages he's received throughout the day. He enters and his life changes from that moment forever. His apartment is now jampacked with every bit of evidence that would ever be needed to prove he's a domestic terrorist: fertilizer, weapons, communication devices, false passports, you name it. His cell phone rings and he's told "Jerry Shaw, you've been activated. You've got exactly 3 minutes to get out of the building before the authorities arrive to arrest you." And so on. Of course, he doesn't believe the voice, and that's why shortly thereafter he's arrested by Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) and taken in. At precisely the same time, Rachel Holloman receives a similar phone call and told if she doesn't comply, the train carrying her son will be derailed. Both Jerry and Rachel are very confused, but when Jerry gets another message, and this time he listens. His escape has been planned. He ducks, and a crane arm crashed into the office tower. He jumps and nearly escapes. On the El, the voice contacts him again via a passenger's cell phone and gives him further instructions which he tries not to follow, but the voice seems capable of anything and everything including: shutting down and switching the direction of the train he's on, controlling traffic signals, monitoring his every move, and controlling every electronic device in his vicinity. The voice and electronic signs give him messages and eventually lead him to a Porsche Cayenne being driven by Rachel all the while Agent Morgan is in hot pursuit. Suspicious of each other at first, eventually the two must pull together to get to the bottom of what's going on and only later will the realize the magnitude of the mess they've been pulled into.

This film is so exhilarating, plan on running out of adrenalin in the first 15 minutes, and then things really start to get going. While there's no doubt Eagle Eye is action packed and full of unexpected twists, it harbors the same futuristic concerns of too many films before it, beginning, with the afore referenced War Games. Therefore, it packs less of punch, though we might need to be repeatedly reminded of some of these themes because we clearly are not getting the message in some ways. One thing the film does differently, is push the plot one part further than the 'life' of the chief nemesis causing there to need to be one more sock to kidneys and breath-taking final countdown to catastrophe.

… plan on running out of adrenalin in the first 15 minutes … good scary, action thriller fun …
There's also a requisite slight opportunity for a sequel should the film do as well as it should at the box office. D.J. Caruso has done a fantastic job with the pacing and plotting of the film. He's also allowed some time for character development of the two leads that adds to quality of the film. With a producer credit for Steven Spielberg, one would expect brilliant special effects, and the film doesn't disappoint. Likewise, the technology and the look in the near future is both frightening and overwhelming. Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan make for an unlikely but very good pairing as Jerry and Rachel. He's overly scruffy, and she's a bit too sarcastic when the stakes are so high, but they gel well and are fun to watch. Overall, the film is a lot of good scary, action thriller fun. If it were not for the slightly derivative central plot theme (you'll have to read the spoiler for that), this film would rank pretty high on the best action thrillers ever list; but, with that, unfortunately it falls into the mid-range category.

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Cast Members
Shia LaBeoufMichelle MonaghanRosario Dawson
Billy Bob ThorntonMichael ChiklisAnthony Mackie
Ethan EmbryCameron BoyceBill Smitrovich
William Sadler
D.J. Caruso
John GlennTravis WrightHillary Seitz (Insomnia) • Dan McDermott

Review-lite Eagle Eye (2008) [max of 150 words]
While the nemesis of the film is derivative of other great action thrillers, Eagle Eye puts a bit of a twist on things as well as setting the scene for a new and present danger government conspiracy movies. Directed by D.J. Caruso, and starring Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan, plan on running out of adrenalin by mid-picture. Excellent special effects, a smooth narrative, and good characters with fine portrayals, all make Eagle Eye the top action thriller of the year so far.

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1 comment:

patrick said...

Shia LaBeouf has turned himself into a sure bet for a movie to make millions and millions no matter what... even though his name is hard to remember (and spell)