Kevin's Review: Eagle Eye - A Familiar and Disappointing Sight
by Kevin Powers
September 27, 2008
Shia LaBeouf is unquestionably a hot commodity nowadays, and after seeing the previews for Eagle Eye, I had grounds to expect it to be the next blockbuster thriller. My expectation seemed reasonable, since the film reunited LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso from the respectable Disturbia, and the original idea for Eagle Eye came from Steven Spielberg, no less. But you know what they say about judging a book by its cover. Eagle Eye may look promising on paper, but no degree of ridiculous gadgetry or blinding car crash can keep you from seeing the real truth - the film is an explosive disappointment.
Films that occupy the space of flashy, big-budget actioners are usually pretty vapid affairs. And that's fine. I definitely enjoy the likes of Michael Bay and am perfectly willing to go for a mind-numbing ride. Eagle Eye fails in crafting itself a likable position, since, ironically, the film can't see how truly stupid it really is. The mechanical femme fatale on the other end of the phone can somehow miraculously sever power lines on a whim, but it must rely on Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf) and an unremarkable Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) to accomplish an important mission? If the whole thing sounds contrived, that's because it is. Why would somebody with such omnipotent influence have to blackmail and threaten individuals to do its bidding?
The film also thinks it's clever in masking the truth behind the female caller. It's hard to talk much about it without giving it all away, but as you witness Jerry and Rachel receiving instructions and being monitored wherever they go, you get a distinct feeling that the film is fucking with you by not revealing the truth behind the voice. It's only about half-way through the movie that this part of the story is made clear. Eagle Eye would have been much better off fessing up to this part upfront, instead of trying to be sneaky and clever. It was neither.
But even when you can see the story's full landscape, it's a disappointing view. If Spielberg did come up with the original idea, I certainly hope it was more than a decade ago, because the central tenet of Eagle Eye is frustratingly familiar. With LaBeouf headlining a film like this, you would at least hope for an original storyline. The idea has been tweaked and updated a bit, sure, but Eagle Eye is definitely baked from a well-worn recipe.
The silver lining to the film is that it might be a humbling experience for LaBeouf. The guy has arguably grown quite the ego over the last few years. That's obviously unavoidable considering his resume, but I've often thought the guy was a bit of a showboat. Eagle Eye, in fact, kicks off with some ill-suited drama that almost smells of a contractual obligation for LaBeouf - demanding that there must be at least one scene where he tears up and visibly grapples with emotion. I only bring this up because LaBeouf and Eagle Eye, interestingly, are a perfect fit - both try too hard and aren't nearly as clever as they think they are.