Eagle Eye

October, 2008, Thriller

Directed by:D.J. Caruso

Starring:Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson, and Michael Chiklis

Remember “Hal”, the sweet-voiced but sinister computer that took command of the space ship in the final reel of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? Eagle Eye rips off that concept in this thundering action flick which wallows in eavesdropping paranoia and pious commentary justifying America’s dependence on electronic gadgets in support of its “war” against terror. Director D. J. Caruso, (Disturbia, The Salton Sea) delivers nary a single fresh idea or interesting character in nearly two hours of expensive destruction. This one’s designed for, (and presumably will be primarily consumed by) adolescent males who like to see things blown all to hell.

Shia LaBeouf, Hollywood’s current box-office champ in the under age-25 set, (Transformers 1&2, Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) plays Jerry Shaw, an aimless goof-off whose twin brother is suddenly killed while working on a top-secret military project for the Defense Department. Without warning, Jerry finds himself involved in an elaborate frame-up driven by a series of messages he receives electronically from a computer-generated voice demanding immediate and unquestioning obedience to a series of seemingly unrelated and irrational commands. This same bizarre fate also befalls Rachel Holloman, (Michelle Monaghan) a single mom who’s just put her sweet-faced son on a train bound for Washington D.C. and a date with destiny….

Eagle bangs along its destructive story line, (with Billy Bob Thornton as a wise-cracking F.B.I. agent in hot pursuit of the oh-so carefully mis-matched protagonists) destroying the requisite number of cars, trucks, aircraft and innocent bystanders for this genre, but LaBeouf and Monaghan quickly become shrill pains-in-the-ass and screenwriters John Glenn and Travis Wright don’t help matters by burdening their leads with every cliché in the scriptwriter’s handbook. When will those involved in Hollywood action movies realize that characters are only attractive when they’re interesting and not merely mouthpieces designed to advance the storyline?

There is simply nothing of interest in this piece of pop cinema, but the piety with which Caruso & Company gloss over the serious issue of what surveillance limits should be placed on the legitimate security interests of the U.S. ranks this film as one of the most ethically slipshod in recent memory. Eagle’s offers the message that the American government can be absolved of both legal and moral responsibility of its security failures as long as the country remains well-intended, a premise as fatuous as this example of expensive but mindless mass entertainment. 

The verdict? Avoid it like the plague.    

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