Review: Eagle Eye (2008)

Note: This article was originally published in Technician on September 29, 2008.


Eagle Eye preposterous, yet fun

It's that time of the year again. With the glow of summer blockbusters fading away, and fall Oscar contenders yet to be released, movie-goers are stuck with a batch of movies that didn't quite make the cut into either category. Amongst the teen sex comedies and indie dramas though, "Eagle Eye" aims to attract action fans with a fast-paced story and a who-dun-it mystery. Is it good? Not really, but you'll probably be having too much fun to care.

The plot follows Jerry Shaw (Shia Labeouf), a broke copy store employee who returns home one evening to find his apartment filled with explosives and forged documents. To avoid being caught by the FBI, he's forced to obey the instructions of a mysterious woman who has the ability to manipulate technology to track his every move. Along the way he's joined by a young woman (Michelle Monaghan), who is coerced into helping him after her son's life is threatened. Rosario Dawson and Billy Bob Thornton play government agents trying to avert what may or may not be a terrorist plot. Cue bullets, explosions and political intrigue.

To call this movie unrealistic would be an understatement. Events are loosely held together by plot devices that feel convenient at best, and just plain silly at worst. The revelation of the identity of the mysterious woman on the phone is taken straight from a host of other films, and as a result the ending loses its momentum. Despite these flaws, "Eagle Eye" somehow manages to feel fresh for most of its two-hour running time.

This is mainly due to the sharp direction by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and the quality of the acting. Labeouf gives one of his best performances - he's clearly growing as an actor. The chemistry between him and Monaghan never feels forced, with the exception of some poorly-written comic exchanges.

Action sequences are well-choreographed and Caruso manages to craft genuine suspense out of scenes that could have easily felt gimmicky or contrived. The barrage of action is constant enough that it distracts from the weaknesses of the script. Beneath the bullets and the explosions, there's a finely-tuned mystery and a blatant political statement about the War on Terror. Thankfully, the latter doesn't feel preachy (most of the time) and the result is a solid thriller that deserves to be viewed on the big screen.

It may be loud. It may be dumb. But amidst other sub-par action films clogging up theaters, Eagle Eye is one of the more entertaining rides.