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Movie Review: Eagle Eye

By Matthew Huntley

October 1, 2008

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

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What Jerry and Rachel's mission is, I will not reveal, but needless to say it involves a lot of stagy chase scenes, product placement, excessive exposition and one crazy plot. When such a movie is geared towards teenagers, how could it not?

The good thing about Eagle Eye is that it's competently made and sometimes fun to watch. As pure popcorn fluff, it's sharp, fast, and flows at a pace so that we're at least partially entertained, albeit on a dumb level. I'll admit I was never bored during this movie, and the car chase in which Jerry and Rachel must out-drive the FBI - first on the street then in a junk yard - was exciting, even though a similar stoplight tactic was done before in The Italian Job. However, there was one sequence I had never seen filmed before and it involved airport conveyor belts. Given the setting, this was a clever idea.

For teenagers, Eagle Eye will serve as fun escapism, and I'm not going to waste time trashing the incredulous plot, because most movies have incredulous plots, though perhaps not to this degree. But just because The Bourne movies are darker and edgier doesn't mean they're any more believable. Plus, I never got the impression the filmmakers ever took the plot too seriously. Yes, it does deal with issues like terrorism and it does seem like it's supposed to take place within our reality, with modern technology, but it's not trying to be realistic. It uses these things merely as thresholds for stunts, gadgets and outrunning bad guys.

My problem with Eagle Eye goes back to the beginning of my review - it's a shameless rip-off of better movies and gives us too much of the same (I've already named three movies it borrows from). The chase sequences are cool, but how many times have we seen a chase sequence? Enemy of the State wasn't wholly original, either, as it borrowed its fundamental ideas from Coppola's The Conversation, but the context of its scenes was fresher.




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The characters are adequate but nothing special. LaBeouf's Jerry, like many of his recent movie characters, is a slacker, but at least he's not a punk. He makes for a tolerable hero, and for once, I didn't feel like smacking him upside the head. Monaghan is satisfactory, too, but really, I think any mainstream Hollywood actors could have played their roles. These types of roles aren't for actors so much as they are roles for celebrities.

Billy Bob Thornton was the only one who seemed to act and not show off. He's straight and convincing in the absurd plot, and he manages to bring himself down to earth as the veteran FBI agent who doesn't have time for bull. He's direct and frank in the way only Billy Bob can be, as when he tells off an Air Force Agent (Rosario Dawson) working her own angle on the case.

Eagle Eye was directed by D.J. Caruso, who last teamed up with LaBeouf on the reprehensible Disturbia, another teenage thriller that more or less ripped off Rear Window. It seems whenever the two of them work together, the end result is a rehash of a better movie. But Eagle Eye is better than Disturbia for two reasons: we don't loathe the main character and it actually entertains us...to a degree. For their next project, Caruso and LaBeouf should try their hands at something more original, and not just a guaranteed moneymaker. Right now, they're making the kinds of movies Tropic Thunder would love to tear apart.


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