Eagle Eye isn’t a very good film, which is a shame since its subject matter is smart and provocative. It is, though, too muddled ultimately to make its point, and since those seeking it out will be looking more for thrills than domestic introspection, the marketing worked as Eagle Eye opened at number one. Some of that must be credited to its star, Shia LaBeouf, who has led audiences to shell out their hard-earned dough for such masterpieces as Transformers and Disturbia.
Eagle Eye is to 2001 what Disturbia is to Rear Window: modified, pasteurized, filtered, bleached, and refined long past the point of having any lasting value. In fact, both films make you ache to watch the original, in part to wash the dirty taste out of your mouth but also to remember that there was once an original thought out there, there really was.
It isn’t that Eagle Eye is that bad. It is a passable thriller with decent enough performances and lots of groovy special effects pieces. It’s got a heavy theme too – that we are being watched by computers 24/7. Remember The Net with Sandra Bullock? This isn’t that much different, as it has to do with the manipulation of information and technology to benefit some evil scheme.
One can’t discuss Eagle Eye’s plot much without giving the whole thing away, but the long and short of it is that our own desire to protect ourselves from harm ends up becoming our biggest harm; technological progress becomes Frankenstein’s monster.
LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, the hapless brother of a genius soldier who has suddenly died. Within minutes, he’s being directed by a computer voice on the phone to do stuff, like get out of his apartment in 20 seconds before the FBI break in and take him into custody. He is suddenly being controlled by this voice on the phone and he’s on the run, headed for some pre-arranged destination. He will die if he doesn’t comply.
But no thriller these days is complete without a hot young babe by his side. The part of “the girl” is played by Michelle Monaghan. Her son’s life is on the line if she doesn’t comply with the voice on the phone directing her to do stuff like drive a car. Eventually Jerry Shaw and “the girl” are put together, and the two are on the run together.
If there is anything interesting in this Kubrick rip-off, it’s the idea that our lives really are lived electronically when you think about it. Our money is converted immediately, our friends and hobbies and purchases, sexual and romantic interests are tracked online. If that information-gathering was culled into one powerful source and that source itself couldn’t be trusted, that would be the end of everything.
Eagle Eye was directed by D.J. Caruso, who also directed Disturbia. It was written by too many writers to name but originally by Dan McDermott. What do you want to bet the original script is a whole lot better than what ended up on screen?