Film: Eagle Eye
Director: D.J. Caruso
Producers: Pete Chiarelli, Pat Crowley
Writers: John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thorton
Runtime: 118 minutes
Have you ever watched a movie that you knew wasn’t good but you couldn’t help but enjoy anyways? Michael Bay films are perfect examples of this, especially his most recent, 2007’s “Transformers.” No matter how over the top or just plain dumb his films are, you can’t help but get some sort of child-like enjoyment from them. That’s exactly the feeling “Eagle Eye” will inspire. It’s a very poorly made film that should have you walking out of the theater, but it has enough charm to pull you in.
After the death of his twin brother, strange things start happening to Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf). He comes home to find his apartment filled with explosives and military gear, with the FBI at his doorstep ready to arrest him. He receives a phone call from a strange woman, who threatens to harm him unless he does what she says. After a crane smashes into the building he is being held in, he is able to escape. He is lead to the distraught Rachel Holloman (Monaghan), who was contacted by the same mysterious woman, that threatened the life of her son. Together, they must follow the orders of this individual who has complete control over everything from traffic lights to cell phones, which leads them to discover a frightening truth about the government and who’s really controlling it.
It’s rare for Hollywood to ever present an idea that could be considered fresh or innovative. But rehashing tried and true formulas and blatantly ripping off recently made films are two different things. “Eagle Eye” unfortunately does the latter. It steals both simple ideas and plot twists from a slew of sci-fi films released in the past five years. For obvious reason, I can’t say which films it steals from, because that would spoil the ridiculous plot “Eagle Eye” crams down your throat. Suffice it to say, you’ve seen this exact same story, and done better.
As is the case with many films that fall back on clichéd plots, the initial premise was intriguing and had potential. The first act capitalizes on the nature of a secret group that has seemingly limitless power, offering scenes packed with action. But once they get to the big revelation halfway through the film, “Eagle Eye” loses its steam and devolves into another mindless sci-fi action flick.
The loud and dumb nature of the plot has one more adverse effect — it makes every other aspect loud and dumb. Parallels to our government immediately following 9/11 and themes of the fear of big government overstepping its boundaries are about as subtle as an explosion in a Michael Bay car chase. A note to writers and directors — we get it. We’re not stupid and we don’t need to be bashed over the head with your supposedly “enlightening” scripts. Themes are supposed to be subtle, they’re supposed to make us think, engage us. When you take that out of the equation, you’re left with a shallow and overbearing movie no one wants to see.
Despite the negative aspects, which there are plenty more of, “Eagle Eye” exudes an eerie charm. This mainly comes through in LaBeouf and Thorton, whose characters have a bluntness that makes them funny even in intense scenes, without ever coming across as too forced or corny. The two add some much needed comic relief to the film, which can distract you just long enough to forget about all of the flaws and actually enjoy the shoot-outs and car chases.
But “Eagle Eye” is the type of movie that you feel dirty enjoying. It’s the type of movie that you’ll see a couple years from now on TBS as you flip through the channels, the type of movie that you’ll end up watching again and again, despite the fact you saw it last week on FX. It’s not a good movie; in fact, it’s pretty bad. But the charm is undeniable.