'Eagle Eye' Movie Review (1 1/2 Stars)

Movie Reviews by Michael Phillips


Eagle Eye Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie, Billy Bob Thornton | Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews Eagle Eye
Shia LaBeouf & Michelle Monaghan

"Eagle Eye" is a thriller only the Global Positioning System could love.

I suppose if I weren't still using regional positioning systems (they're called "maps") I might be more interested in all the cyber-techno-harum-scarum, and the showy transitional sequences depicting a vast surveillance network as seen from space, and the outermost Google map perspective.

The screenplay tries like the devil to get you all fussed up about omnivorous cyber-surveillance on a scale George Orwell never imagined, but the result is a hyperactive jumble that fails to whip up the right mixture of dread and propulsion.

The film's central idea is that our government's mania for Homeland Security-era privacy infringement has gotten so out of hand, everything in an ordinary citizen's life can be digitally surveyed, or overheard, and manipulated, via cell phone, security camera, GPS, ATM, everything.

So: When the ice-cold female voice of the Pentagon's super-secret surveillance weapon ARIA (think humorless older sister of "2001: A Space Odyssey's" HAL 9000) wants to get ahold of Shia LaBeouf onboard a Chicago elevated train, ARIA simply calls the cell phone of the sleeping stranger sitting next to him. Or she flashes messages on a passing LED screen. Or, if an Arab-American supporting player needs eliminating, and he happens to be running near power lines, she knocks the hot wires loose like an invisible Transformer and, zap, he's dead.

Anything's possible. And when anything's possible, a story's suspense tends to be lessened rather than heightened.

LaBeouf plays Jerry, a clerk at a Kinko's-type copy shop. Early in a perplexingly laid-out narrative his identical twin brother, an Air Force functionary, dies in a mysterious accident. Soon enough Jerry's life goes flooey: Someone delivers a bunch of a terrorist-brand chemicals and weaponry to his little apartment, and packs his bank account with $750,000.

The FBI, represented by Billy Bob Thornton (well, it's possible), believes Jerry to be an enemy of the state. He's not, though. Nor is another innocent bystander, played by Michelle Monaghan, whose son is visiting Washington to take part in a concert for the president. The little boy becomes an inadvertent pawn in a sinister assassination plot. "You've been activated" is ARIA's come-on line.

The movie itself is hyperactive and a jumble. "Eagle Eye" was executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, but not so you'd notice. Several of the visual conceits used so beautifully in Spielberg's own "Minority Report," the trappings of a wondrously chilly near-future, recur here but clumsily and without wit. Concocted by four credited writers, the screenplay tries like the devil to get you all fussed up about omnivorous cyber-surveillance on a scale George Orwell never imagined. The results are intensely silly and visually hysterical -- not in the funny way, but in the "fit of hysteria" way, with molto destructo car chases cut to an editing rhythm that might make even Michael "Transformers" Bay scream: "Will you slow down a little?"

The director, D.J. Caruso, teamed with LaBeouf on "Disturbia," which certainly was derivative (borrowing liberally from not just "Rear Window," but a bit of "Psycho" and a dash of "Poltergeist") but told its story efficiently and well. "Eagle Eye" works only in flashes -- there's a pretty good chase sequence in the bowels of an airport luggage-conveyor system -- and only in fragments do you feel the simultaneous buzz and cold chill the filmmakers are after.

Politically the film plays it straight down the middle, straining not to offend even though the U.S. secretary of defense, played by a stone-faced Michael Chiklis, intones dire warnings about what happens to a nation when security measures become "threats to liberty itself."

For all its digitally effected chaos, the cinematic threat level in "Eagle Eye" never even comes close to orange.

Eagle Eye Movie Trailer

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence and for language).

Running time: 1:58.

Starring: Shia LaBeouf (Jerry Shaw); Michelle Monaghan (Rachel Holloman); Rosario Dawson (Zoe Perez); Michael Chiklis (Secretary of Defense); Anthony Mackie (Scott); Billy Bob Thornton (Morgan).

Directed by D.J. Caruso; written by John Glenn, Travis Adam Wright, Hillary Seitz and Dan McDermott; photographed by Dariusz Wolski; edited by Jim Page; music by Brian Tyler; produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Patrick Crowley. A DreamWorks Pictures release.

About the Movie "Eagle Eye"

If you want to live you will obey.

In this race-against-time thriller, Jerry Shaw (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 and their family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move. As the situation escalates, these two ordinary people become the country's most wanted fugitives, who must now work together to discover what is really happening. Fighting for their lives, they become pawns of a faceless enemy who seems to have limitless power to manipulate everything they do.

DreamWorks Pictures Presents A Kurtzman/Orci Production A D.J. Caruso Film "Eagle Eye" starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie and Billy Bob Thornton. The film is directed by D. J. Caruso. Story by Dan McDermott. Screenplay by John Glenn & Travis Adam Wright and Hillary Seitz and Dan McDermott. The film is produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Patrick Crowley. The executive producers are Steven Spielberg and Edward L. McDonnell. The director of photography is Dariusz Wolski, ASC. The production designer is Tom Sanders. The film is edited by Jim Page. The costume designer is Marie-Sylvie Deveau. The visual effects supervisor is Jim Rygiel. The music is by Brian Tyler. This film has been rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence and for language.

At the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Geoff Callister is at the center of a critical decision: whether to bomb an important target, a wanted Afghan terrorist. Without total confirmation of his identity, the President orders the attack to proceed at what appears to be a funeral. The bombing triggers a rise in terrorist animosity against the U.S. from overseas, as well as a possible threat from within. . .

In Chicago, a 23-year-old slacker named Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), an employee at the local Copy Cabana shop, is suddenly called home - his identical twin brother, Ethan, an Air Force public relations officer and pride of the family, has been killed in a car accident.

Meanwhile, single mom Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is sending her 8-year-old son, Sam, off to Washington, D.C., to play trumpet with his school band at the Kennedy Center - their first separation. During a night out with the girls, she receives an odd call on her cell phone: a strange woman telling Rachel to follow her instructions implicitly or Sam - now unexpectedly visible on a wall of TV screens across the street - will die.

Upon his return to Chicago, Jerry finds his normally empty bank account now contains $750,000, and his sparsely furnished apartment is crammed with do-it-yourself terrorist supplies. He, too, receives a call from the same woman, warning him to run or he'll be arrested. Before he can leave, he is apprehended.

In an FBI interrogation room, Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) questions the young man, who insists he has been framed. When he is left alone in an office, Jerry is once again contacted by the mysterious woman, who frees him by swinging a nearby construction crane to crash through the window and instructs him to jump.

He is led by the woman to a Porsche Cayenne - where Rachel, whom he has never met, is waiting for him. Suspicious of each other from the start, they soon realize they are both at the mercy of this strangely disembodied voice, who is tracking their every move, and has seemingly limitless control over their fates.







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