I had high hopes for this film, expecting something perhaps resembling the Jason Bourne films in narration and style. Instead, Eagle Eye focuses entirely on set pieces and car chases over plot and character development.
Shia LaBeouf – yes, him again – stars as Jerry Shaw, a slacker who, after the sudden death of his twin brother, begins receiving phone calls from a mysterious woman, and soon finds himself on the run after being framed for suspected terrorism. Whilst fleeing police custody he receives help from stranger Rachel (Michelle Monaghan), who finds herself in a similar predicament.
Threatened with harm to her son, she co-operates and the two become partners. The ability of the annonymous voice to control every computer system in America forces the pair to follow its instructions all the way to Washington DC, resulting in high-octane drama along the journey.
By keeping the characters constantly on the move, Director DJ Caruso provides distraction through the police chases – events which would in the real world leave numerous casualties, but naturally are not given a second thought. LaBeouf and Monaghan make appealing leads, though the lack of chemistry between them means that the hastily written final scene is forced and unnecessary; there simply to tick a box. Similarly, the opening scenes concerning the bombing of an Afghanistani village appear to serve no purpose except to add a contemporary and political edge.
Billy Bob Thornton as FBI agent Thomas Morgan gets the best lines, although could quite possibly be repaying a debt to someone by appearing. However, an appearance from Michael Chiklis (a.k.a. The Shield’s Vic Mackey) as the uncharacteristically principled Secretary of Defence is a cliched device there only to inform us that there are still some decent people holding government office (something of which I am still sceptical).
Following popular convention, the action is filmed so close and edited so frenetically that at most times it is futile attempting to comprehend quite what is going on. Caruso wants to scare us with the potential evil of technology and the Big Brother state (hard to be scared of when you see the CCTV cameras outside Tesco), especially in the (metaphorical) hands of a psychopathic CIA computer, Aria, plagieristically reminiscient of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL.
Eagle Eye is a prime example of technophobia at its most hypocritical; damning it on the one hand whilst at the same time serving as a marketing exercise in product placement. The blatantly shoddy rip-offs of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest served only to make one long for the genius and competency of Hitchcock’s films. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief for all 118 minutes and enjoy mindless explosions, then see this film – if not, you would be far better off returning to the original classics.