Sunday, September 28, 2008

REVIEW: Eagle Eye...

Summer is now officially over. It all started in the last week of May, with the release of the 318 Million dollar hit, Iron Man. With intermittent releases such as The Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, and Sex And The City (which I actually sat through this weekend), and small films like The Strangers, this has been one of the most colorful and solid film summers I can remember. While there have been stinkers (think The Happening and Indy 4), the pure quality of films released, has been startling, and now that we are looking in the face of Oscar season, what would the last week of summer look like? With the release of the new Shia Lebouf vehicle, Eagle Eye, comes the death of the '08 summer season. Would Shia and crew live up to the expectations made by the rest of the summer slate?

Eagle Eye is the new political thriller from helmer D.J. Caruso, best known for last years Rear Window remake, Disturbia. It re-teams him with Disturbia star, Shia Lebouf, who plays Jerry Shaw, slacker brother of fallen U.S. Air Force soldier, Ethan Shaw, also played by LeBouf. Jerry Shaw is a troubled soul, who, as a child, could never live up to his brothers standards. He works at a copy shop, and has a really rocky relationship with his father, which culminates with an outburst after his brother's funeral. A few days later, he goes to a local A.T.M. to find out that he has a current balance of 751,000 dollars. Not only that, he has enough gun's, scope's and other various tools to start his own terrorist organization, which is exactly what the F.B.I. thinks he is doing. However, before the FBI busts in, he receives a phone call from a mysterious woman. Michelle Monaghan plays Rachel Holloman who is a single, divorced mother with a child, who has just let her son Sam, go on train with his school band, as they are set to play at the Kennedy Center, in D.C., for the President and his cohorts. However, she also receives a call, to meet Jerry, or else her son will die. This was all set up, allegedly, by a recent accident in which the U.S. government allowed a mission to take out innocent civilians, as they believed it was a terrorist, and his group. With the usual plot twists, turns, and car chases, this is a thriller straight out of conspiracy novels one would check out while taking a flight. Is that where this premise and film should have stayed?

D.J. Caruso is a very surprising young filmmaker. With roots in Television shows such as Dark Angel, he burst onto the film scene with The Salton Sea, a great little film. Then he made a shit stain that happens to be called Two For The Money, but the redeemed himself with the aforementioned Disturbia. Eagle Eye continues his solid streak, even if it happens to have some glaring flaws.

The number one thing that impressed me as I walked out of this movie were the action scenes. The car chases in particular, were perfectly paced, well shot, and genuinely intense. This film was overall an intense film. From the outset, you get great political aspects that really set up the plot of the film. Also,Shia continues to prove that he is an actor to be reckoned with. He is great in this role, and gives a lot of charm and heart to a character that normally wouldn't be given it. Michelle Monaghan is great as usual, and the supporting cast, especially Billy Bob Thornton really steal the show. The script is solid, the score works for the film, and the cinematography is also solid, and only heightens the tension. That said, the film is heavily flawed.

The past couple of weeks, the film releases have been solid, yet I've had a similar problem with a few of them, and this one is no different. It's extremely paint by numbers. From the outset, you know what will happen, and, while I don't want to give anything away, you will know about 1/3 of the way in, where the plot will take you. While the car chases and action scenes are solid, they are only stolen from other, better films, including the overall antagonist of the film, which is so blatantly stolen, that I let out an audible sigh. This is also a problem that plagued Caruso's last film, Disturbia. However, the blame for this doesn't lie with him, it's completely on the shoulders of the screenwriters.

The film as a whole is poorly plotted, with the second act really taking steam out of the pace of the film. The script is schlocky, and would be unbearable if it weren't for the great performances given to it. Finally, political allegories and satire is so heavy handed, that it left a sour taste in my mouth. It's like 2005's Crash, if Don Cheadle happened to be a terrorist. It was an action film, but that doesn't mean that action is the only thing that they had to do right. All of that aside, I did have some fun, and that counts for something. Just not a whole lot.


Poorly plotted and extremely paint by numbers, Eagle Eye is sub par in almost every category of critiquing, outside of the performances and the one point that makes or breaks a thriller, excitement. An exciting film it is, solid, it is not.

Tomorrow I will have the box office top 10, along with major DVD releases, and the Top 10 films from the Tim Burton catalog...

Go see something good!

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