Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review - Movie - Eagle Eye

Now that summer's over (with Iron Man, Mummy and others), it's time for the "minor contenders" to enter the arena. Eagle Eye is among the first big action-adventure movie of the 'off season." From the original trailers, I was undecided on this movie, mainly because of my angst towards Shia LaBeouf as an actor. I was still intrigued by the conspiratorial storyline and up for a good action flick so I was kind of excited to go see the film despite Shia.

Tone/Feel
This film is highly focussed on the current state of the United States with our high anxiety towards terrorism and possible threats both internal and external. The main characters Jerry and Rachel (who are civilians and very much NOT terrorists) are thrown into a situation where their own government suspects them of being terrorists.

Jerry and Rachel are thrown into confusion and compelled to undertake strange tasks from a seemingly omnipotent character who contacts them via cell phones and electronic display boards around the cities they travel. As the action progressed, their actions became more and more "shifty" and it became apparent that they were actually being forced to help in some kind of terrorist plot.

The tension and confusion of the main characters was well portrayed both by the writing/direction and by the actor's themselves. The behaviors of Jerry and Rachel felt realistic given the situations they were involved in. The motivation for Rachel's action was very realistic and made her seem like a very true character. Jerry's reactions to the situation were usually more self-involved (his own safety, his own life) and so he fluctuated back and forth. Towards the end of the movie, he showed that he cared for Rachel's safety as well and so it was easier to relate to him.

Writing/Dialogue/Characters
As with most action movies, the writing had its cheesy moments. Still, the actors carried them off with good presence which made them believable. Billy Bob Thornton did an excellent job as the FBI agent trying to catch Jerry and Rachel. His character reminded me a lot of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Similar to the character in the fugitive, Thornton's character comes to a realization of Jerry/Rachel's innocence. Unfortunately, it felt a little too quick to me. In Fugitive, the agent uncovers a TON of clues that queue him into the situation. When Harrison Ford tries to proclaim his innocence outright, Jones replies "I don't care!" However, with Eagle Eye, I didn't see Thornton as receiving enough information to have come to the conclusion on his own. So when he breaks the rules and pulls Jerry into his own custody and helps him out, it felt a bit too sudden to be believable.

LaBeouf seems to be continually typecast as the rebellious punk forced into outrageous situations where he miraculously pulls off the right thing at the right time. Michelle Monaghan does well as the confused damsel in distress who has the strength of a pack of lions when their child is threatened. Billy Bob Thornton shines as the over-eager leader of the anti-terrorist task force.

Action/Story
The story itself was entertaining, if a bit too overdone. There was a part of me that had hoped for "the voice on the phone" to be attached to some big terrorist organization with some huge conspiracy. Admittedly, in order for the fast pace actions and reactions that happened, it had to work out the way it did, but I still would have preferred a human element involved just to get us out of the stale 'man vs. tech' cycle that we've had lately. I was hoping for more Tom Clancy than Wargames meets Enemy of the State.

Still, the intensity of the action and the suspense that laced the story made it very entertaining. My main problem with the action itself had to do with the director and the cinematography itself. Similar to the latest Bourne flick, I felt that the camera was often too close to the action and filled with far to many very quick shots. While I acknowledge these types of shots can be good to help give the audience a feel of the speed and intensity of the action, they can also quickly become disorienting and make it difficult to fully appreciate the action. The car chase scene was probably the worst offender. The shots cut back and forth way too quickly and were often way too close to the action to really appreciate just how intense the chase truly was and just how much was going on and how much they were being helped by the Eagle Eye.

Overall
Even though the storyline is completely overdone and often unbelievable, this is still an entertaining film that was pulled of with a lot of luck and some good acting. I've heard some critiques about the ending and my feelings are mixed. There were a couple of possible "happy" endings. I think the way things played out was pretty good. I think the final scene between Jerry and Rachel was unnecessary and probably pushed things a little too far. Had the movie ended before that scene, it would have been better.

So, this movie isn't ready to knock any other blockbusters off a top-ten chart or anything, but it's a fun action movie with enough thrills and twists to entertain. Worth watching for fun.

***
2 1/2 stars

1 comment:

movie fan said...

isn't Eagle Eye the one where Shia LaBeouf becomes Indiana Jones? dang, now i'm all confused...