Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eagle Eye

When I first heard about the concept for this movie, I instantly knew that I would A.) see it as soon as I could and B.) like it a lot. Before you read this, you should probably know that I'm automatically biased in favor of almost everyone involved with this film. Here's the rundown: an idea by Spielberg (he's freakin' Spielberg), produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (writers of Transformers, JJ Abram's upcoming Star Trek, MI:3, and co-creators of "Fringe"), starring Shia LaBeouf (awesome) and Michelle Monaghan (if you haven't seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, do it now), and directed by DJ Caruso (Disturbia and the upcoming Y: The Last Man trilogy). I don't know about you, but that pretty much does it for me.

Eagle Eye
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thorton, Rosario Dawson
Director: DJ Caruso

Let's get one thing straight - I'm tired of people saying how ridiculous and unbelievable this movie is and putting it in a negative light because of it. If you saw the trailer, you knew exactly how ridiculous it would be, and you know exactly what type of entertainment you're going to see. I put Eagle Eye in the "Michael Bay" category of action movies. Everyone loves to hate them because it makes them seem too conformist if they actually enjoy themselves while watching it. Just because a movie doesn't have the most original idea or perfect execution doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. And it's not like you're watching Death Race here - this movie (along with most of Bay's films) do deal with some complex issues, however disguised they may be by the explosions along the way. They're action films for people who want a little more than JUST the action; they don't give MUCH more, I'll grant you that, but they definitely deliver on multiple levels.

Instead of telling you the plot, just watch this trailer to get the idea.

LaBeouf shows once again that he's completely capable of handling himself in front of the camera, and dusts himself off after the debacle that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Jerry Shaw still has the "slacker" aspects to the character that LeBeouf emulates so well, but I for one would like to see him stretch his acting abilities into other realms. I think it would be a good test for him to play against typecast and maybe play a villain or a vampire or something next time around (after Transformers 2, of course). There were some heartfelt moments in the beginning of this movie where I gained more appreciation for Shia's acting. And I think Michelle Monaghan is an under-used actress who needs a better agent; there are plenty of roles she could play and she doesn't even have anything listed as "in development" on her IMDB page.

Director DJ Caruso does everything he can to keep the movie plowing through its standard plot, but does a good job keeping the pace high so we barely have time to realize it. The movie had a cool look to it, which I guess should be attributed to the production designer and perhaps the cinematographer, where most scenes had a slight metallic blue hue to it (seen above), giving a subconscious implication that technology is everywhere to compliment the undertones of the film.

While the two stars did everything they could to keep the movie going, it couldn't just concentrate on them. A nice supporting cast, including Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thorton, Ethan Embry, and Michael Chiklis all chipped in to round out the plot a little bit. Thorton and Chiklis were easily the most believable in their respective roles, while Dawson and Embry seemed a little out of place to me (you can't blame Rosario, though - her decision to star in Eagle Eye over Kevin Smith's newest comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno was undoubtedly a steadier financial move).

Let's talk for a second about plausibility. The whole concept, like many before it, involves technology becoming so powerful that it takes control of our lives in a way that we can't foresee. Obviously we're not breaking new ground with this material; the story has been told thousands of times before, dating back to the myths of Prometheus bestowing fire on humans and more recently in films like Terminator and Live Free or Die Hard. The technological things that happen in this movie (tracking by cell phones even when turned off, utilizing security cameras in the most obscure places, even piecing together conversations through vibrations in a coffee mug when there is no other microphone to pick up the sound) are not all that far-fetched. The reasoning behind all these things being used, however, can definitely be called into question.

(Spoiler warning - reading further will ruin the movie if you haven't seen it yet.)

First off, the movie tries to keep you in the dark with who the voice is on the other side of the phone. If you've seen any of these kinds of movies before, it's fairly easy to assume that the government is involved in some way. Especially with Billy Bob and Rosario running around trying to find the answers, it's kind of a dead giveaway that they simply don't have the clearance to know the "shocking" truth. I think they kind of played this whole aspect up a little too much - it's not crazy to think that a computer that can track your every move based off past purchases and social networking profiles, so it doesn't really require that much of a "big reveal."

The thing about the movie that didn't make sense to me was Rachel Holloman's involvement. Think about it. She really didn't need to be there. Unless her son was the ONLY one playing the trumpet and the trumpet specifically was the ONLY instrument that could generate the exact sonic trigger necessary to detonate the crystal explosive at the Kennedy Center, her entire character was practically irrelevant. I'm not saying that Monaghan didn't do a good job, I'm just suggesting that the writers (there WERE like four of them) probably could have found a better way to justify her character's involvement with the story. Jerry's character is completely justifiable because he is the only one who could have unlocked the system and allowed the computer's plan to work since his twin was the one who put a bio-lock on to foil her plans (how convienient that he has a twin, huh?). But it seemed to me as if the writers wrote the whole movie around Jerry's character and then, as an afterthought, figured that he needed a girl running with him the whole time.

Also, the only other thing that kind of upset me (aside from the blatant product placement that I've come to accept) was that Jerry survived those gunshots at the end. Those were trained Secret Service agents that shot him multiple times, and not only does he survive, he's (seemingly) not reprimanded for firing shots off in such close proximity to all the major members of the cabinet? They probably all shouldn't be in one room to begin with, but that's a different story. Anyway, I thought the movie would have been much better had his character died - it would have shown that Jerry grew up into the hero that his brother was and given his character redemption from years of living in Ethan's shadow. It would have completed the arc of the character (from drop-out downer to patriotic hero) perfectly. The filmmakers instead chose to have Jerry and Rachel get together at the end, undercutting the singular strength of her character (the single mother "I'm going to do this myself" aspect) by having her rely on him to fill the role as the man who never lets her down.

Overall, as I'm sure you gathered by now, I enjoyed Eagle Eye quite a bit. It's easy to put plot holes and script problems behind you when you've got such a cool movie to watch. While it's not anything that I'd choose to own, it's definitely a nice action movie that meets its goals - entertainment with a flash of something more. Until next time...


Boze said...

Benis... They definitely do have the technology to eavesdrop on somebody using the vibrations. I watch a lot of science channel

brummitt said...

I just can't wait til they have the tech to send Billy Bob into space...

patrick said...

it is true that computers are taking over; you can read the secret messages that "the interwebs" are trying to tell you by copying and pasting together all the captchas you happen to run across