Movie Review: Eagle Eye

By Matthew Huntley

October 1, 2008

Oh look. Shia is running from the law. Again.

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Eagle Eye (2008) will draw inevitable comparisons to Enemy of the State (1998), and rightly so, because it's an inferior rip-off. Both are thrillers in which the protagonists are hunted down by the government and can be seen anywhere at any time on the planet with advanced technology. They also contain high-tech chase scenes, slick production values and a plot involving government conspiracy.

Heck, even their posters look alike and the phrase "enemy of the state" is uttered in the newest movie. Surely they must have been distributed by the same studio, perhaps to cash in on cross-promotion, but their distributor is one of the few differences between them.

Whereas Enemy, which starred Will Smith and Gene Hackman, was fresher, more credible, and a sophisticated thriller for adults, Eagle Eye functions more as escapist entertainment for the MTV crowd. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, and I might have liked it more had it come out before Enemy of the State, because it does have some exciting moments of its own. But I can't rightfully recommend a movie that so blatantly steals from others of its kind.


Shia LaBeouf stars as Jerry Shaw, a slacker and Stanford dropout who suddenly finds himself being labeled a terrorist by the FBI. Shortly after his twin brother's funeral, Jerry discovers $750,000 has been inexplicably deposited into his bank account, while several packages containing guns, chemicals and explosives have been delivered to his apartment. After digging through them, he immediately gets a phone call from an unidentified woman, who tells him the FBI will be at his apartment in 30 seconds and that he must flee the premises. But the FBI captures him and he's interrogated by Agent Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), who sternly informs him, "You're in a lot of trouble son."

Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother, experiences a similar dilemma when the mystery woman calls and tells her the train taking her son to Washington, D.C. will derail unless she gets into a car at the end of the street and does exactly what she's told. Every electronic device around her, including the televisions at McDonald's, is somehow manipulated by the woman on the phone.

When Jerry makes his one phone call from FBI headquarters ("I didn't realize I got one"), he gets another call from the mystery lady, who helps him escape. After jumping onto a train track from, oh, three stories up, Jerry is instructed to join Rachel in the black car and the two of them become partners in a dangerous, classified operation, whether they want to or not. The reason they play along is because the nameless woman on the other end of the line can seemingly kill them at will. Just look at what she does to the poor Middle Eastern man under the power lines. And it's not like they can just throw away their cell phone; she'll dial the stranger sitting next to them if she has to.

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