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Eagle Eye Cuts And Pastes from Many Other Movies

Eagle Eye
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Written by John Glenn, Travis Wright, Hillary Seitz, and Dan McDermott, from a story by McDermott
Dreamworks/Paramount, 2008

Eagle Eye is The Matrix: Mysterious voice calls average person and tells him what he needs to do to survive, or not get caught, with stunning accuracy.  In this movie, Mr. Average is Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf), a dude who works at a copy store.  How fitting.  There’s a Ms. Average, too: Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), who is called by the same voice telling her she needs to do wild, random things too or else the train taking her son to Washington DC is going to derail.  Eventually Jerry and Rachel end up taking on tasks together, with all the government agencies after them  How does this woman’s voice know everything and is able to keep up with two people at once?  Well, it must be a computer, right?

Eagle Eye is 2001: A Space Odyssey and 1984: The mysterious voice is coming from a computer following its preset orders, resorting to violence to accomplish its means.  The government set up this computer to be the ultimate Big Brother, meanwhile having the utmost regard for the Constitution.  Wow, how does this computer not get conflicted?  Anyway, it’s setting into motion a rare Constitutional order, one that will affect high ranking officials in the US government, all the way to the President of the United States.

Eagle Eye is Clear and Present Danger: The computer goes through all of this because the US bombs some Arabs, with a 51% chance that it has a deadly terrorist among them.  Of course, a mistake is made despite the protest of the US Defense Secretary McAllister (Michael Chiklis).

Eagle Eye is The Fugitive: Jerry is being chased by FBI man Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton), after being accused of a crime he did not commit.  While Tom chases Jerry (ha ha!), he also finds himself doubting that Jerry could do all this on his own, and he conducts a real investigation.

Eagle Eye is any contrived thriller involving twins: Also in on the fun is Zoe Perez (Rosario Dawson), who is allowed to look at the Big Sister computer, and along with Major William Bowman (Anthony Mackie), they try to figure out where the machine went haywire.  They review a recording of Jerry’s superior twin brother, Ethan Shaw (double the LaBeouf!), who manned the computer before an unexpected death.  Could he have left some information that will help the situation?  And why did the computer pick Ethan’s twin brother to work for her?

Eagle Eye tries, in part, to emulate The Bourne Identity: The action scenes do all of those tell-tale things to make it more jarring and exciting: shaky cam, extreme close-ups (which shake), quick-flash editing, and neverending car chases.  The problem with the extreme-close-up-shaky-cam-flash-editing action scene is that you’re not allowed to actually focus on what’s going on.  It’s like “What’s going on?  What’s that?  What happened to the…oh.”  It is a philosophy, I suppose, that if such a thing were really happening, it would be completely confusing, and there is a simulation to the feel of being in a real car chase.  But I ascribe to the other philosophy, and that’s “we’re watching a movie, we should be able to see it like it’s happening in front of us, and if we’re going to a close-up, it should be one in which there is no doubt of what it is or what is going on.”

Ultimately, this movie is a confusing mash-up of plot-meets-action.  One thing I kept thinking was, “If this computer can do all of this, why doesn’t it do it without going through all this cross-country nonsense using two people (actually, it’s more than two: there are several others doing smaller tasks) who could easily get caught or killed, and in such a contrived way?”  Now, later, we find out why the computer can’t do it all on its own, but the reason is in itself contrived, and foolish, considering the danger in which it puts its “agents.”  And anyone who reads any of my reviews will know, plot usually drives my interest in a movie, and if it doesn’t make sense, then it substantially detracts from my overall impression.  Unfortunately for Eagle Eye, there isn’t much else to be excited about after that, either.


Comment from kw
Time: September 27, 2008, 1:13 am

This is maybe one of my favorite reviews you’ve ever written. Right on target with the criticism, but still subtly hilarious at the same time.

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