Short version: Eagle Eye starts out strong as an exciting action/suspense movie but eventually the implausibilities of the story catch up with it.
Screen Rant reviews Eagle Eye
I hate reviewing movies like this one because you just can’t win. Eagle Eye is one of those films that you can review three different ways from Sunday. You could say it’s “a gripping thrill ride,” “a ridiculous action film with delusions of grandeur,” or “a middle of the road action movie” all depending on your particular point of view or even the mood you’re in when you sit down in the theater.
This review has minor spoilers, but does not give away the ending. If you plan on seeing this I really encourage you to stay away from anything that might give it away including spoilerish reviews, radio talk show hosts, etc., if you don’t want the movie ruined for yourself!
So no matter which way I go, people will come out of the woodwork to say I’m nuts, a jerk, or I shouldn’t be reviewing movies. Luckily I’m from New Jersey and I can handle it, so… bring it!
At the start of Eagle Eye, my thought was “woah, this is going to be an intense, kick-ass movie.” The opening scene is in a military command center, where an area somewhere in the Middle East (presumably Iraq) is being monitored by both soldiers on the ground and high-tech aerial surveillance. They think they have the equivalent of Osama bin Laden in their sights, but according to a computer analysis there is only a 51% probability that it is him, and he and a group of men are either at a burial or a weapons cache.
A decision has to be made whether to hit the group via a missile attack or abort. The commanding officer and the President both agree it’s worth the risk to take them out, but Defense Secretary Callister (Michael Chiklis) disagrees. He is obviously overruled and the strike is executed.
Cut to a little poker game between Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), where we see demonstrated that he is a slick, fast talker as he relieves his friends of their cash in a very funny scene. Unfortunately his charming personality hasn’t been enough to raise his station in life as we see him walk out into his job as a “sales associate” at Copy Barn (think Kinkos).
He’s pretty much dead broke and lives in a squalid little apartment. Turns out he has a twin brother who died very recently and was the complete opposite of him. Overacheiver, brilliant, military academy, yadda yadda yadda, while Jerry is basically a drifter, estranged from his father (William Sadler) who is disgusted by his directionless existence.
When Jerry returns home he hits up the ATM machine and finds he has a balance of $750,000. Of course, he’s a bit freaked, especially when the machine spits out thousands of dollars at him (nevermind the ATM limit of $500/day). When he arrives at his apartment it is stocked to the gills with everything a terrorist would order from The Home Shopping Channel: Hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate, military night vision goggles, scopes, automatic weapons, tech manuals for military aircraft… you name it.
And this is when he receives the mysterious phone call telling him he has less than a minute to get out of his apartment because the FBI is on its way. Being the anti-establishment, rebellious guy he is, he tells her to pack sand. Unfortunately she wasn’t kidding and the FBI busts in and arrests him.
We see him back in interrogation where agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) questions him. Basically ol’ Jerry is hosed until a high level FAX comes in stating that he needs to get his one phone call. You guessed it – the mystery lady is on the line and manages to engineer his very elaborate escape.
And then we have Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan, who seems to be channeling Sandra Bullock), single mother of little Sam (cute little guy Cameron Boyce). She’s sending him off to Washington D.C. to perform with his school band for the President and cabinet. She also receives a phone call from mystery woman, threatening that her son’s train will be derailed if she does not do as she is told.
Eventually Rachel and Jerry come together and are sent on a mysterious mission of which they know nothing more than whatever their current task is (which is usually trying to get away from the authorities, leading us to believe that it’s nothing good).
The film also stars Rosario Dawson as Zoe, an Air Force investigative-type and was directed by D.J. Caruso, who previously directed Disturbia (which also starred Shia) and Two for the Money (which starred Al Pacino). Caruso actually does an excellent job with the look of the film, coaxing a “grown-up” performance from Shia and with plenty of great action sequences. My only beef with the action, specifically an early car chase is once again “shaken camera syndrome.” The scenes would have been “actiony” enough without the addition of camera shake and rapid sway. I actually would have enjoyed them more without the additional movement – made it harder to see what the heck was going on.
I think audiences will respond well to this as we’re coming out of an action movie “dead zone” where there hasn’t been anything adrenaline-inducing at the movies for a few weeks. Eagle Eye DOES have plenty of suspense and action, but the problem was that it started out vaguely realistic and became more implausible as the film went on. I always enjoy Billy Bob Thornton on the big screen and even Rosario Dawson did an admirable job in her role.
However, the level of control over surroundings and planning for unforeseen circumstances by the mystery woman eventually (to me) wandered over the line into the absurd. There was also no shortage of people getting out of cars that had been totaled with barely a scratch.
You’ll either think the reveal is awesome, or it will take you out of the movie (for me it did the latter). I kept wanting to enjoy the ride, but the absurdities of the film and plot holes kept nagging at the back of my mind.
There was also the issue of the film being bracketed by “serious” scenes/messages at the beginning and end of the movie, which didn’t really fit with the over the top middle.
BTW, if you want to bring kids from around 10 years old and up and you don’t mind a few “S-bombs” the film isn’t TOO violent and there’s nothing suggestive that’ll make you want to cover their eyes.
Overall I’d say Eagle Eye was a decently fun ride that took itself a little to seriously considering the overall story. It might serve to tide you over until James Bond returns on November 14th in Quantum of Solace.